Ben Joe Hawkes is a worrier. Raised by his mother, grandmother, and a flock of busy sisters, he's always felt the outsider. When he learns that one of his sisters has left her husband, he heads for home and back into the confusion of childhood memories and unforseen love....
|Publisher:||Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group|
|Product dimensions:||5.03(w) x 7.80(h) x 0.74(d)|
About the Author
Date of Birth:October 25, 1941
Place of Birth:Minneapolis, Minnesota
Education:B.A., Duke University, 1961
Reading Group Guide
1. Why does Ben Joe go home to Sandhill? What is the triggering incident that makes him get on the train?
What are some of the other underlying reasons that send him home?
2. One reviewer described the Hawkes family home as
“loveless.” Do you agree? In what ways is the family conventional?
In what ways is it unconventional?
3. What are the things that you’re not allowed to talk about at the Hawkeses’ house? Who enforces the no-talk rules?
4. How do you think Ben Joe feels being the only man in the house? How do his sisters treat him? His mother?
His grandmother? What is Ben Joe looking for in his childhood home?
5. Who was Dr. Phillip Hawkes? What do we learn about him over the course of the novel? How does Ben Joe feel about him?
6. Who is Jamie Dower, and why is he in the book at all?
Why does his death affect Gram so deeply? What does her reaction to his death say to her family?
7. This book is about alcoholism, love, family, adultery,
divorce, money, and grief—and yet it is not at all heavyhanded or lugubrious. How does Tyler keep the pages turning? How does she use humor and quirkiness? What does she have to say about all these “issues”?
8. Why does Ben Joe go to visit Shelley? Do you think he knows why at the time? How do you feel about
Shelley? What is troubling about Ben Joe’s relationship with her?
9. Why do you think Ben Joe’s father left his wife and family? Do you have sympathy for him? How do his children feel about his lover, Lili Belle, and their half brother? What does Lili Belle have to offer them?
10. In some psychological circles, it is said that children act out their parents’ relationship. If this is true, how is
Ben Joe “acting out” his parents’ relationship. How is
Joanne? Jennifer? How do the siblings do it as a group?
11. This is a book by a young novelist; Anne Tyler published it when she was twenty-two—three years younger than her male protagonist. Does it read “young”? How do you think she was able to embody the thoughts and language of her hero?
12. Joanne has left the family to marry—and returned after seven years with her daughter, Carol. Why do you think Joanne comes home? What are the possible problems in her marriage? Do you think she will stay married to Gary?
13. Anne Tyler is the author of sixteen novels, all of which are thematically related and address character and story in not-dissimilar ways. If Morning Ever Comes is her first novel—for those who have read some or all of the author’s other novels, in what ways is it a true Anne
Tyler novel? In what ways is it unique and different from some of her other books?
14. When Ben Joe leaves North Carolina for New York again, how has his life changed? How has it stayed the same? How do you feel about Shelley and Ben Joe leaving together? Is Ben Joe realistic in his assessment of their potential life together?
15. Would you classify this as an optimistic novel? A