No River Too Wide – Reading Guide
1. Three different women in No River Too Wide experience very different relationships with the men in their lives. Jan, who is escaping a long term abusive marriage. Taylor, who is finally able to think about having a man in her life. Harmony, who is trying to fall in love with the perfect guy. Did their struggles remind you of relationships or situations that you or friends have experienced?
2. Taylor, who was a major character in One Mountain Away, the first Goddesses Anonymous book, has a problem trusting and forgiving. Knowing this, and being confronted about this problem by people she respects leads her to make a difficult choice at the novel’s end. Do you think she took a big personal step? Under these circumstances, could you have taken the same one?
3. Harmony, who has hoped for nothing more than to see her mother freed from her abusive marriage, discovers that now that her mother appears safe, her resentment toward Jan for not leaving sooner begins to surface. Was it realistic to you that her own feelings about her childhood would appear and need to be dealt with?
4. Before reading No River Too Wide, were you aware that 1.3 million women are physically assaulted by their domestic partners every year? Although this was only one aspect of the novel are you more aware of the scope of the problem now and more aware of what signs to watch out for in new relationships?
5. Were Jan’s podcasts helpful in understanding the way Rex slowly and carefully entrapped her in their marriage? At what point would an older, more experienced woman have begun to suspect Rex might become an abusive spouse?
6. Domestic abuse is one of the most chronically under reported crimes. Women who have not personally experienced this sometimes find it difficult to understand why women stay with men who abuse them. Was Jan’s predicament realistic? Were her reasons for being trapped in a marriage to Rex believable enough that you could understand them?
7. The women who call themselves Goddesses Anonymous try to reach out in whatever way is needed to women who need them. In what ways did they reach out to Jan? How helpful were they?
8. The female truckers in the novel who call themselves Moving On are fictional, but there are many women who reach out to help others affected by domestic violence. Throughout the world women have created shelters, help lines, as well as given legal and financial assistance. Do you know women who help in this way? Is there a program to help in your own community?
9. Rivers run through many of our lives, not just geographic rivers, but rivers of feeling. Did the metaphor of the river and what it represented to Jan remind you of personal rivers you’ve had to cross or dive into?
10. How likely is it that Jan will recover from two decades of an abusive marriage and go on to live a satisfying life? Do you think she’s taken the first steps by the time the book ends?