Reading Guide

Questions for Discussion

  1. The Barakats believe the ground beneath their house is haunted and claim to have seen spirits in their home. How does their faith contribute to this belief? Do you think that Page begins believing in ghosts and the paranormal as the book progresses? Who are the skeptics and who are the cynics of the novel?
  2. Discuss the various aspects of faith as they relate to the novel. Do not limit yourself to strictly religious faith, but also discuss everyday matters of faith, i.e. the hope and belief that things will always work out for the best, etc.
  3. What parts of the book made you reflect upon your own feelings and beliefs about religion? How do you feel about the religious restrictions placed on Page and Mortichai’s relationship? What was your reaction to the destruction of the archaeological finds in the name of religion?
  4. Water makes several appearances in the novel, from the cistern below the Barakats’ home, to baths, to ritual cleansing. What is the symbolism of water throughout the book as it relates to worship and faith?
  5. The author is a congregational rabbi, a position that has been traditionally held by men. How are traditional gender roles subverted in this story? What is Klein saying by giving Anatiya as much agency as she does? How would the story have been different if Jeremiah had written the scrolls instead?
  6. The passages from the scrolls which appear at the beginning of each chapter tell of the love story between Jeremiah and Anatiya. How do those passages mirror what happens to the characters in each of those chapters?
  7. Early in the book Page’s friend points out the difference between a broken heart and a depressed heart. How would you describe the status of Page’s heart at the beginning of the novel? Where is it at the end? How does her relationship with Mortichai change it?
  8. Page is accused of being able to string together complex concepts, but of being unable to understand simple things such as love. How true do you think this is and why? How does her emotional growth progress throughout the novel?
  9. The conventional definition of archaeology is the scientific study of historic or prehistoric people and their cultures. Beyond Page’s search into the history of Jeremiah, what else is she searching for in her past as it relates to her family and relationships? What does she discover that she wasn’t searching for?
  10. Page has chosen a career that isolates her and places her within a small contained group of people. What is she avoiding? Do you see symbolism in her choice of a career in archaeology? Part of the process of archaeology is the constant search for things long hidden, things in the past that will help us better understand the present. What are the various characters searching for? Norris? Page? Itai? The Barakats? Who is more successful in finding what they seek, and why?