Writing

Pieces of Grace

Grace thought she went from losing it all to having it all. As she begins her new life post-divorce, she starts dating a renowned doctor who draws her into a fairy tale existence. But there’s a dark side to Dr. Benjamin Hayward.

As she becomes more involved with the successful doctor, the fairy tale turns to uncertainty and mystery. Despite warning signs, Grace is determined to make this new relationship work. When she finally realizes she knows little about herself and even less about Benjamin Hayward, it might be too late. Benjamin’s secrets—the death of his mentally ill wife and the whereabouts of his missing daughter—could lead to Grace falling into a deeper abyss than the one that brought her home in the first place and she risks losing herself all over again.

Pieces of Grace is a complicated story of relationships confused by undercurrents of mental illness. Nestled someplace between The Choice (Nicholas Sparks) and The Girl on the Train (Paula Hawkins), readers find themselves hoping family and friends can carry Grace through her most difficult moments.

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Discussion Questions for Pieces of Grace

WARNING: Spoiler alerts present

Grace is resilient. She demonstrates this on multiple occasions. Which ones were most prominent in your reading of the book?

In what ways is Grace shaped by her family? Do you see qualities in her you would associate with being the “baby” of the family? In what ways do you relate to or connect with Grace’s family?

The concept of “home” presents itself frequently in Pieces of Grace. Josh lived on numerous military bases with his parents. That can shape one’s conceptualization of home. Grace moved away from her parents’ home. This is common for “new adults” as they explore their options and seek more freedom. She returned to her parents’ home at various times in the story. She was impressed with Benjamin’s home and wondered what living there would be like. Examples abound of her quest for a sense of home. Why was “home” so important to her? When does she truly feel at home?

Caroline shaved her head. It is unclear whether this happened before or after leaving her father’s house. Based on your reading and any clues you might have noted, what do you believe to be the timing? Why did she shave her head?

Grace assumes Caroline is much younger than she actually is. Upon what is she basing this assumption? Was her childhood too sheltered? Why would that matter?

The stigma of mental illness can be felt in many ways. The book gives a glimpse into this matter, both from the perspective of the mentally ill as well as from a family member. What can society do to lessen that stigma?

At one point, Grace encounters her 15-year-old self as she looks at her high school yearbook. What advice would you give your 15-year-old self? What mistakes would you want to avoid? Which ones have made you stronger?

Grace gets caught up in a Benjamin’s world of wealth. We sometimes think money will solve our problems. Why was Benjamin’s wealth impactful for Grace? What would you do if money weren’t an issue? Would you truly be happier with more material goods? From what do you draw your greatest joy?

Our friendships can be powerful sources of comfort. Grace’s friendship with Lexie lasted many years and great distances. Do you have those same connections? Did Grace ever fully lose her connection to Lexie? Have you lost a friendship due to another person’s interference? Do you have unhealthy friendships? In what ways do they keep you from moving forward?

Some friendships are so special they are sustainable through anything life throws our way. Grace and Lexie seem to have such a friendship, which is why Grace is conflicted when Benjamin wants her to “pull back” from Lexie. Even though she tentatively agrees with him, deep down Grace trusts Lexie more than she does Benjamin. This is proven when she steps away from the relationship and returns to Tucson for an important face-to-face with Lexie. What qualities or characteristics did you see in Grace and/or Lexie that you associate with a good friend? Under what circumstances would you walk away from a friendship?

Call it intuition, a gut feeling or even a sixth sense, we don’t always give that inner voice enough credit in guiding us. Grace suspected Josh of cheating, her intuition led her to that belief, but she didn’t trust that inner voice enough to really determine its legitimacy. As a result, she didn’t think she could trust it later, even when she felt concerns about Benjamin. Has your inner voice been loud enough to influence you in some way? Have you ever ignored some gut feeling that you later regretted ignoring? Are there ways to nurture intuition so we can be more attuned to it?

Sometimes there are no answers. As the reader, you get to determine some of the important conclusions. What does Benjamin get out of his relationship with Grace? Why does Caroline run away? Why does Caroline kill herself? Why does Benjamin turn the gun on himself?