BOOK CLUB DISCUSSION

BOOK BLURB: When Leora Ebersole sees the small plane crash in her Old Order Mennonite community, she has no idea it's a foreshadowing of things to come. Soon after the young pilot, Moses Hughes, regains consciousness, they realize his instruments were destroyed by the same power outage that killed the electricity at the community store, where Englischers are stranded with dead cell phones and cars that won't start. Moses offers a sobering theory, but no one can know how drastically life is about to change. With the only self-sustaining food supply in the region, the Pacifist community is forced to forge an alliance with the handful of stranded Englischers in an effort to protect not only the food but their very lives. In the weeks that follow, Leora, Moses, and the community will be tested as never before, requiring them to make decisions they never thought possible. Whom will they help and whom will they turn away? When the community receives news of a new threat, everyone must decide how far they're willing to go to protect their beliefs and way of life.

I'm excited to hear what you all thought of this book and this situation. 

1. The crazy thing about the subject matter of this book is that this is a very real threat to us all. Have any of you heard of an EMP? If so, what do you think about it? 

2. Our book club read book one in a series that Teri Blackstock wrote called The Last Light (in the Restoration series) There are 4 books in that series where the author has you experience the extinction of technology. Everyone has to learn the basics; like growing your own food, cooking your own meals, getting creative to make fires, etc.

3. What character did you emphasis with the most? Why?

4. What were your feelings about how the Mennonite counsel dealt with the EMP crisis? Do you think they believed Moses or not? Many people don't know how to cook. I know I haven't had much luck growing things. Can't imagine the pressure of knowing this was the only way you could eat and/or feed your family. 

5. How likely do you think that something like an EMP event might really happen? How do you balance being prepared with being controlled by fear?

6. Have you read any other books like this before? If so, which ones? What did you think about them? This?

7. How do Leora's beliefs change throughout the story? Was this progression portrayed realistically? do you think Leora will ever come back around to her pacifist beliefs? why or why not? Have your own convictions changed from childhood to adulthood? What caused them to change?

8. How does Moses'f faith change throughout the book? How do you think he will continue to grow or change spiritually in the next book?

9. How do Leora's feelings toward her father shift over the course of the story?

10. Were you surprised by the identity of the person stealing food from the community? What did you think of the way Leora reacted? Where would you like to see this thread go in the next book?

11. Another book club discussion question from the book.

When Moses and Jabil go into town in search of a tractor, Moses vacillates on how the community views their plan. Though they do not plan to pillage or harm anyone, they are prepared to steal to better themselves and the community. If placed in the same position, would you be willing to break the law in order to save yourself or your family? Why or why not?

12. Leora admits, "I yearn to be with Moses, as if he is my North Star in this blackhole of madness, but my duty to my family forces me to remain lost." Could the two coexist, or must Leora Make a choice? Faced with a choice between love and a responsibility to your family, how would you decide?

13 Why does Leora think her grandmother might not be as anxious as everyone else despite the upheaval they're experiencing? How have you see this illustrated (or contradicted) in people you know? In general, why do you think we are so fearful for our lives and those of the people we love?

14. Which characters, if any, would you like to know more about? What would you like to see happen to them as the story concludes in the next book? 

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Replies to This Discussion

I'm excited to hear what you all thought of this book and this situation. 

1. The crazy thing about the subject matter of this book is that this is a very real threat to us all. Have any of you heard of an EMP? If so, what do you think about it? 

2. Our book club read book one in a series that Teri Blackstock wrote called The Last Light (in the Restoration series) There are 4 books in that series where the author has you experience the extinction of technology. Everyone has to learn the basics; like growing your own food, cooking your own meals, getting creative to make fires, etc.

Many people don't know how to cook. I know I haven't had much luck growing things. Can't imagine the pressure of knowing this was the only way you could eat and/or feed your family.

Have you read any other books like this before? If so, which ones? What did you think about them? This? Did the books you mentioned and/or this one make you want to prepare yourself for this event? If so, where would you start in getting yourself ready and those you love?

Thanks for suggesting Jolina Petersheim's "The Alliance". (I don't know if I would have pursued finding a copy, but thankfully my library was able to borrow it.) I was inspired by the way the characters used their background to try to protect their way of life through a disaster (by the way, I had a great aunt named Leora--I don't think I've heard that name in decades!).  A few lines stuck with me--when Leora says while thinking about her vadder-- "tears blister my eyes"; also, when Moses tells Leora, "You can't doubt something you don't believe in. In the end, your faith will be stronger for having been tested." 

And so I look forward too to reading the sequel, "The Divide." I have also read Jolina's newest book, "How the Light Gets In", and I can see why her very different style wins awards. I heard Jolina interviewed on the radio recently, and the different cultures where she has lived, and health challenges of her family, made me understand her writing a little more too.

A friend of mine is quite involved in the EMP technology (or, I should say, the anti-EMP technology, to counter those who would attack the United States). He often interacts with the Air Force and other government agencies, especially since President Trump's executive order in March regarding EMP readiness, and an important summit with allies in April.

In high school, I recall reading "On the Beach" by Nevil Shute, and "Alas, Babylon" by Pat Frank, both written in the 1950's about the supposed aftermath of nuclear war. I recall their being thought-provoking for a teen-ager.

Hi, Zanze;

I did like this quote you mentioned,"when Moses tells Leora, "You can't doubt something you don't believe in. In the end, your faith will be stronger for having been tested." 

That was the theme running through the whole book "Faith" and what you do when it's tested. The Mennonites didn't believe in fighting. Moses wanted to protect them and respect them but he saw what they could not even imagine. 

It was fun to learn that this author's family was one that wanted to be ready for a disaster of any sort. Thanks for sharing about the author's interview you heard recently. I was very encouraged to hear about your friend that is on the "Anti" EMP task team. I'm thankful they have one. Thanks for sharing your thoughts about this book too. I look forward to hearing more as the month comes to an end. Grin!

I was also thinking as I read through "The Alliance" of my being in elementary school in Florida during the Cuban Missile Crisis of the early 1960's. We  had drills to practice leaving school in groups to be bused to a safe location. Schools around the state from the Alabama and Georgia borders to the Keys  had "safe" water and food and blankets at school in preparation for a potential disaster.  Probably a good thing that most kids thought this was an adventure and didn't realize the possible severity.

I really do not like these kinds of books. First it was Amish (really Mennonite). Second, it was doomsday/survivalist. I do know what an EMP is and it is scary but I really don't want to read a fiction book about it. As a society, we depend so much on everything from cars to computers that if we didn't have them, it would be terrible. Also, I would not want to have to be dependent on growing my own food. I do grow little things like lettuce and herbs but would have a hard time growing everything that I ate (my meals would be really sparse).

I'm not a FAN of doomsday/survivalist book either Sharen. But this one hooked me in the fact it dealt with faith not just of one person but of a whole community's struggle to walk out what they've believed. They couldn't believe they'd be in a situation to doubt what they've believed and stood for.

I'm with you on the growing my own food thing. I've tried too. I'm excited to hear that you've been able to grow lettuce and herbs. I think one year my husband Fred grew tomatoes, strawberries and a ton of zucchini. I hope if things got bad that there would be a co-op of sorts and we could share! That's what happened in the Terri Blackstock series. Looking forward to hearing more from you about the book as time goes on. Grin!

I tried tomatoes and zilch - they flowered up nicely but no fruit. I grew a lot of them in Illinois and since moving down here have talked to several farmers at the Farmers Markets about growing them and the consensus is that they are hard to grow in the South so kudos to Fred!

3. What character did you emphasis with the most? Why? I felt for both of the main characters. First Moses, a military man, knew exactly what was going on. He had a plan but he also wanted to respect the beliefs of the elders and the community in which his plane crashed in. I was looking up the EMP information and found this about airplains, FYI "Even though an EMP will take out all the electronics of the plane. ...So, the plane will continue its path until it runs out of fuel and glides (unless you were flying down when the EMP strikes) and crashes but it won't technically "fall" from the sky. And if with luck your plane can even survive the landing.

So, Moses wants to protect this community and has feelings for Leora he doesn't know what to do with. 

Leora has a crisis of faith on many levels. I felt her struggle as she was the head of her family at such a young age. She too had feelings for Moses she didn't know what to do with. It wasn't just a matter of choosing the Mennonite boy from her childhood (who would soon be leader of their community) but she's be choosing a way of life and belief system if she picked Moses. Hard choices.

4. What were your feelings about how the Mennonite counsel dealt with the EMP crisis? Do you think they believed Moses or not? 

I think that the counsel wanted to do exactly what the bible said to do literally. But they also felt an obligation to take care of their own too. Moses wasn't a religious man but he had an insight into what was happening in the world they were just hearing about for the first time. They didn't know this guy but could understand his position given his military background. They were caught up in what the bible says, how to walk out the scriptures, seeking God's counsel and that of the elders.

That's what made this book fascinating to me. We all face things like this (ok not on such a global level like this but things that still rocks our world, our believes.

Looking forward to hear what you think!

HAVE A FEW QUESTIONS TODAY From the book. I was unable to access Book Fun for a day or two. Think there was a glitch so I'm giving a few extra questions today.

5. How likely do you think that something like an EMP event might really happen? How do you balance being prepared with being controlled by fear?

I think very likely. I think all we can do is our best. Unlike when a natural disaster happens on the other side of the world and we are not affected this will be happening to everyone everywhere. You think you might react one way but given the fact you are living it day in and day out is another story. It's not just you reacting to the situation it's the whole world at once. Given everyone has a different belief system and set of fears. Things would be very interesting to say the least.

6. Have you read any other books like this before? If so, which ones? What did you think about them? This?

Yes, I've read other books (fiction) glanced at a few survivalist books in the library. It's difficult. The series I read was the one I mentioned Last Light by Terri Blackstock. I also read a YA series that explores a group of friends that go to the same school. They live in different situations when the EMP hits. It's eye opening and very different from what we just read.

7. How do Leora's beliefs change throughout the story? Was this progression portrayed realistically? do you think Leora will ever come back around to her pacifist beliefs? why or why not? Have your own convictions changed from childhood to adulthood? What caused them to change?

I do not think her pacifist beliefs would come back. Too much has happened. It would take a long time for the world to change. It would never be the same and the people she lived with would be forever change. Yes, my adulthood view and convictions are very different from when I was a child. Several life events changed everything for me. I also became a Christian at the end of 9th grade. Needless to say my parents were not excited for me. They couldn't understand why I'd want to go to church more than Christmas and Easter. Grin! Let along every week.

8. How does Moses'f faith change throughout the book? How do you think he will continue to grow or change spiritually in the next book?

With a name like Moses you'd have to think that he was raised by Christian Parents. Just saying. Grin! The way he interacted with the elders you'd think he had read the bible or at least went to Sunday school. With a whole community living out their faith in front of him it affected him. Made him to some self evaluation even after fighting in war. This is a good questions. I'm not sure my answer hit the mark. (I did read this book a while back. Grin!)

LOVE TO HEAR FROM YOU! 

Nora :o)

HAPPY MEMORIAL DAY EVERYONE! Blessings and Thanks to those who serve!

I'm posting a question that is in the back of the book. The author has some good questions.

Moses feels anger toward God, believing that God has spared him while letting others around him suffer and die...How would you encourage Moses to move past his anger?

Moses also experienced this during his time in the military. He survived and his buddies and fellow soldiers didn't make it.  I think there are stages of anger as there are stages of grief.  Seeing things from someone else's point of view does change you. It's hard to make sense of it all. Jesus knows first hand about things not being fair. 

What do you all think?

9. How do Leora's feelings toward her father shift over the course of the story?

I was just as surprised at Leora was when her father showed up on the scene. It's been a while but I think she thought he was dead. He did leave them to fend for themselves. Then Leora's mom became ill and left her to care for her sister by herself. There was so much baggage she carried in reference to her father. I think he was working his charm (not overly so LOL) I think she felt sorry for the man. I think she was seeing him for what she was for the first time.

10. Were you surprised by the identity of the person stealing food from the community? What did you think of the way Leora reacted? Where would you like to see this thread to in the next book?

YES, I was surprised. I've read book two titled The Divide. She does take readers on a surprising journey. You'll learn what Leora decides to do with her life. You'll learn about Moses too (of course grin).

I will say I enjoyed book one much better. I've also enjoyed this authors new release titled

How the light Gets In. This story is loosely based on the story of Ruth and Naomi. It has a surprising ending that will have readers look at the whole story with a new perspective. Grin!

11. Another book club discussion question from the book.

When Moses and Jabil go into town in search of a tractor, Moses vacillates on how the community views their plan. Though they do not plan to pillage or harm anyone, they are prepared to steal to better themselves and the community. If placed in the same position, would you be willing to break the law in order to save yourself or your family? Why or why not?

Both Moses and Jabil wanted to protect this community from the terrors of the world outside. This community was innocent of the ways of the world and just how horrible things could get. Moses saw how ugly things could get in serving in the military.  Moses had done things to save his fellow soldiers that he normally wouldn't do. It's a them or me mentality in war. Jabil was just getting a glimpse at what it was going to take to save his community. He was willing to step up to the plate. Moses knew Jabil didn't realize the full implications of what that entailed. We are made to protect ourselves. It's hard to go against that natural instinct. Plus with the government shut down, and no military-police enforcing the law. It's kind a free for all. Everyone doing what is right in their own minds.

12. Leora admits, "I yearn to be with Moses, as if he is my North Star in this blackhole of madness, but my duty to my family forces me to remain lost." Could the two coexist, or must Leora Make a choice? Faced with a choice between love and a responsibility to your family, how would you decide?

Both Leora and Moses know they both have feelings for each other.  They come from two different world and they are facing a global crisis. How does this all work out? In normal circumstances it's hard to work but when the world is falling apart around you and everything you've ever believed is being tested it's hard to know what the right thing to do is. You definitely can't trust your emotions when they are all over the place. I liked how the author showed this difficult situation from all sides.

13 Why does Leora think her grandmother might not be as anxious as everyone else despite the upheaval they're experiencing? How have you see this illustrated (or contradicted) in people you know? In general, why do you think we are so fearful for our lives and those of the people we love?

Everyone handles chaos, crisis in very different ways. It goes in stages. I know that in some situations people laugh when nothing is funny. They just don't know how to handle it. Some people shut down emotionally and take the blows. Others handle the situation calmly then fall apart when the crisis is over. I think that Leora's grandmother has been through a lot and doesn't get all emotional about things. She's taking it in one step, one situation at a time.

14. Which characters, if any, would you like to know more about? What would you like to see happen to them as the story concludes in the next book? 

I'd like to know more about Leora and Moses and Jabil and how all that works out.

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