THE HUNDRED GIFTS

Jennifer Scott

The national bestselling author of The Sister Season shares a new novel about a woman who discovers the spirit of the season is truly in the giving….

With the holidays around the corner, empty-nester Bren Epperson realizes that for the first time in decades, she has no large family to cook for, no celebration to create. So she starts teaching a holiday cooking class, and it’s a hit—until Virginia Mash, the old lady upstairs, bursts in complaining. Rather than retaliate, Bren suggests that the class shower Virginia with kindness—and give her one hundred gifts.

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The national bestselling author of The Sister Season shares a new novel about a woman who discovers the spirit of the season is truly in the giving….

With the holidays around the corner, empty-nester Bren Epperson realizes that for the first time in decades, she has no large family to cook for, no celebration to create. So she starts teaching a holiday cooking class, and it’s a hit—until Virginia Mash, the old lady upstairs, bursts in complaining. Rather than retaliate, Bren suggests that the class shower Virginia with kindness—and give her one hundred gifts. So they embark on the plan to lift a heart. Along the way, amidst the knitting and the making and the baking, they’ll discover the best gifts can’t be bought and family celebrations can be reborn.

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  • New American Libray
  • Paperback
  • October 2015
  • 384 Pages
  • 9780451473240

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About Jennifer Scott

Jennifer Scott is the national bestselling, award-winning author of Second Chance Friends, The Accidental Book Club, and The Sister Season. Her acclaimed YA novels under a pseudonym, Jennifer Brown, have been selected as an ALA Best Book for Young Adults, a VOYA Perfect Ten, and a School Library Journal Best Book of the Year.

Praise

A really wonderful book.”—Jen Lancaster, New York Times Bestselling Author

An uplifting story about…the redemptive power of familial love.—Liza Gyllenhaal, author of A Place for Us

A fantastic story.—Examiner.com

“The perfect book to curl up with on a nice snowy day!”—Open Book Society

Discussion Questions

When The Hundred Gifts begins, the protagonist, Bren Epperson, is an empty-nester,

eating her emotions as she ponders the quiet holiday season she’s about to endure without

her children. Who is she by the end of the book and what has contributed to her changes?

Think specifically about the roles Bren plays in her life, including those of wife,

daughter, mother, teacher, and friend. What contributes most to her changes through the

book?

In chapter two, we meet Virginia Mash, a solitary older woman living above the

Kitchen Classroom. What is Virginia’s role in the beginning of the book and how does

that change by the end? As you did with Bren, consider Virginia’s roles as a wife,

mother, and friend.

Bren and her husband, Gary, view and deal with the absence of their children in very

different ways. Do you think this is typical in a marriage? Were you surprised by Gary’s

admission that he was looking forward to having time for other pursuits—and time for

Bren and him alone? Have you seen this in your own marriage or in those of your friends

and family? How do they work to come back together?

In the beginning of the novel, Virginia Mash has few attachments in her life, but she

does have a dog, Chuy. Talk about the role of pets in Virginia’s life and in your own.

What does Chuy represent to Virginia? What voids does he fill? What does he bring to

her? And are there ways in which he hinders her?

Food becomes a source of conflict in this novel as a group of women gather together

for cooking classes. But it might be most noticeable for Bren and Tammy Lynn. Discuss

the different ways these two women approach food. What are they like at the beginning

of the book? At the end? How do Tammy Lynn’s daughter, Janelle, and the new class

member, Steff, play into this conflict? Is there a character you most identify with

regarding her attitude toward food? Why?

As the cooking class begins, a variety of characters come together, including Bren’s

aunt Cathy and her mother, and Tammy Lynn, Teresa, Lulu, and Rebecca. Did you have

a favor- ite character? Who was it and why was he or she your favorite?

As the title suggests, giving gifts is a central theme in this book. The women are

dedicated to making homemade gifts for Virginia Mash. Do you think homemade gifts

are more mean- ingful than store-bought gifts? Would you, as Bren’s nephews do, prefer

a gift certificate or cash? What is the line between being pragmatic and being heartfelt in

the art of gift giving?

Bren’s final gift to Virginia Mash is a twelve-course meal she delivers on Christmas

Day. However, when she tries to deliver it, Virginia Mash tells her, “This is harassment.”

Bren counters, “This is lunch.” Virginia Mash then responds, “This is illegal,” to which

Bren exclaims “No, you mean old thing, this is friendship.” How is it friendship? When a

potential recipient rebukes an offer, how does one know when to back off and when to

keep pushing? How assertive should one be in pursuing friendship?

Many people would say The Hundred Gifts has a happy ending—and they might be

tempted to criticize the story for that feature. Yet the happy ending is a valued element in

many types of books, from Jane Austen novels to contemporary romances. What do you

think of happy endings in novels? Are they unrealistic and simplistic? Do they inspire

hope and give us strength to face new challenges? Are they some mix- ture of the two?

Do you prefer stories with happy endings?

Is there someone in your own life who might benefit from one hundred gifts? Or

perhaps just one? Who is that person and what would that significant gift be?