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'Songs of Willow Frost' by Jamie Ford

Book Club Discussion Questions


Songs of Willow Frost by Jamie Ford

Songs of Willow Frost by Jamie Ford

Random House
Songs of Willow Frost is Jamie Ford’s second novel, and once again features Chinese-American adolescents in Seattle in the early twentieth century. This time, the action takes place in the 1920s and during the Great Depression. These book club questions can help your group consider the story and historical details that Ford raises.

Spoiler Warning: These questions contain details from the middle and end of the novel. Finish the book before reading on.

  1. Which parts of the novel did you enjoy more, the sections from William’s perspective or from Willow’s?
  2. Do you think Charlotte was important to the story? What effect did her life, and death, have on William?
  3. "Most of the boys and girls at Sacred Heart still had parents out there -- somewhere -- but wherever they were, they'd been unable to put food in their children's mouths or shoes on their feet" (5). Can you understand why a parent would take a child to Sacred Heart? Do you think, considering the total conditions in and outside the orphanage, that the kids were better off?
  4. Charlotte says early on, "She whispered, 'Sister Briganti once said that all great stories of love and sacrifice have a moral -- it's up to us to find the lesson hidden inside'" (49). Do you think there is a lesson to this story? Is it ultimately hopeful?
  5. "She looks like me, William thought yearningly. And I look like her" (54). How important is ethnic identity to this story? What about it makes it uniquely Chinese-American?
  6. Were you surprised that Willow was actually William's mother?
  7. To what extent did Willow's choices determine their fate and how much was out of her control? Do you think she made a good choice when she gave up William to keep him away from Leo?
  8. Do you think Willow should have taken Colin's offer when he returned from China? If she had not been successful as a movie star, would your opinion be different?
  9. Why didn't Willow find William earlier, once she had become successful? Why do you think she returned in the end?
  10. What do you think would happen to them after they left the orphanage?
  11. If you read Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, how do you think this novel compares? Which book did you like better?
  12. Do you think the story was convincing and the characters were realistic? Did you enjoy Ford's writing style?
  13. Rate Songs of Willow Frost on a scale of 1 to 5.

  • Songs of Willow Frost by Jamie Ford was published in September 2013
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books
  • 319 pages
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