TO SEE THE MOON AGAIN
The first step to letting go of the past is forgiving it…
Every day of her life Julia Rich lives with the memory of a horrible accident she caused long ago. In the years since, she has tried to hide her guilt in the quiet routine of teaching at a small South Carolina college,
The first step to letting go of the past is forgiving it…
Every day of her life Julia Rich lives with the memory of a horrible accident she caused long ago. In the years since, she has tried to hide her guilt in the quiet routine of teaching at a small South Carolina college, avoiding close relationships with family and would-be friends. But one day a phone call from Carmen, a niece she has never met, disrupts her carefully controlled world.
Carmen is a study in contrasts—comical yet wise, sunny yet contemplative, soft yet assertive. As she sets about gently drawing Julia from her self-imposed solitude into a place of hope, she also seeks her own peace for past mistakes.
Together, the two women embark on a journey that takes Julia far from the familiar comfort of home and gives Carmen the courage to open her heart.
Together, their sightseeing trip turns into a discovery of truth, grace, redemption, and, finally, love…
Praise for the novels of Jamie Langston Turner:
“Beautiful writing full of wisdom…and stylistic elegance.” —Blog Critics
“Memorable and inspiring.” —Publishers Weekly
Describe Julia Rich at the beginning of the novel. Is she a likable
woman? Would you like to have her as a teacher, a wife, a
friend, or a sister? Why or why not?
Julia dreads her sabbatical time. If you had a year off, what
would you do? How would you fill your days? Discuss the
things you would want to accomplish and the people you’d want
Why is Julia so fearful about Carmen’s arrival? What do you
think makes her change her mind and let the girl stay with her?
In what ways are Carmen and Julia alike? In what ways are they
different? Do you think they are more similar than not? Discuss
their thoughts on children; their attitude toward religion;
their hobbies, habits, and childhoods.
Carmen frequently quotes Bible verses while talking to Julia,
often to reinforce her point, and it is clear she has a strong faith
in God. What is the role of religion in the story, and in the relationship
between Carmen and her aunt?
Julia says, “Many years ago, she had read a description of guilt
that had stuck with her, the gist of it being that guilt is an irresistible
thing humans latch on to and carry around like precious
cargo.” How do the characters in this book carry around their
guilt? What moral compasses do Julia, Carmen, and Luna use
to determine what makes a mistake a crime, or an act of love a
sin? How do they justify or reconcile their guilt in their daily
lives? Do you believe one of them deserves to suffer more than
the others for her actions?
Discuss the importance of the many catastrophic events of
Julia’s life: her traumatic relationship with her father, Jeremiah’s
disappearance, the fight with her mother, the accident, the plagiarism
of Jeremiah’s story, and Matthew’s death. Which one of
those things do you think had the biggest effect on her,
How do you think Julia’s life would have been different if she
hadn’t had the accident in her parents’ driveway that killed a
little boy? Would she have let herself have kids? Would she have
married Matthew? Would she have reconciled with her family?
When trying to convince Carmen that she needs to find out if
her baby lived, Julia says, “Sometimes the same thing can bring
good and evil.” How is this statement relevant not only to Carmen’s
situation, but also to other situations the characters have
encountered? Consider Julia’s accident, Jeremiah’s death, and
any other events that had both a good and bad effect on the
Carmen always manages to see the positive in a situation, and
is confident in God’s plan for her life. After Luna confesses to taking Lizzy as her own grandchild, Carmen reacts by marveling
at how God orchestrated that plan so she could find out the
truth about her child. Were you surprised at Carmen’s reaction?
What would you have done in her situation? Does Carmen’s
interpretation of Luna’s actions as “a deep mercy” seem frustratingly
naive to you, or is it something to be admired?
As an English professor, Julia frequently analyzes situations or
conversations as they relate to creative writing, or the stories and
essays her students might write. Why do you think the author
refers so often to literature and writing technique? Do her references
affect the way you read certain passages in the book?
the ability to forgive oneself—
big theme in this novel. Why is it often easier to forgive others
before forgiving yourself? Do you think Carmen and Julia were
finally able to forgive themselves? How did Julia’s views on forgiveness
change throughout the book, if at all?
Julia believes she “forfeited her right to have children” when she
had the accident, and doesn’t believe she would have been a
good mother. After seeing her develop a relationship with Carmen,
do you agree or disagree with her assessment? Why?
How has Julia changed by the end of the book? How are her
attitudes, relationships, and feelings different than they were
before she met Carmen? In what ways do you think she will be
a different kind of teacher when she returns to the classroom in
Julia’s relationship with her husband was not warm and open.
Whose fault was that? What were their reasons for marrying each other? Have you ever known anyone in real life who
learned to appreciate someone only after that person died?
Another theme in the book deals with “letting go.” Do you
think it’s fair to say that women tend to hang on to their children
more than men? Why or why not? How can parental possessiveness
damage both the child and the parent? Besides
Carmen, what else does Julia let go of?