BKMT READING GUIDES

Before The Storm
by Diane Chamberlain

Published: 2008-06-01
Paperback : 480 pages
6 members reading this now
3 clubs reading this now
2 members have read this book
Recommended to book clubs by 1 of 1 members
Fifteen-year-old Andy Lockwood is special.

Others notice the way he blurts out anything that comes into his mind, how he cannot foresee consequences, that he's more child than teenager. But his mother sees a boy with a heart as open and wide as the ocean.

Laurel Lockwood lost her son once ...

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Introduction

Fifteen-year-old Andy Lockwood is special.

Others notice the way he blurts out anything that comes into his mind, how he cannot foresee consequences, that he's more child than teenager. But his mother sees a boy with a heart as open and wide as the ocean.

Laurel Lockwood lost her son once through neglect. She's spent the rest of her life determined to make up for her mistakes, and she's succeeded in becoming a committed, protective parent—maybe even overprotective. Still, she loosens her grip just enough to let Andy attend a local church social—a decision that terrifies her when the church is consumed by fire. But Andy survives…and remarkably, saves other children from the flames. Laurel watches as Andy basks in the role of unlikely hero and the world finally sees her Andy, the sweet boy she knows as well as her own heart.

But when the suspicion of arson is cast upon Andy, Laurel must ask herself how well she really knows her son…and how far she'll go to keep her promise to protect him forever.

Editorial Review

No editorial review at this time.

Excerpt

They took my baby from me when he was only ten hours old.
Jamie named him Andrew after his father, because it seemed fitting. We tried the name out once or twice to see how it felt in our mouths. Andrew. Andy. Then, suddenly, he was gone. I'd forgotten to count his fingers or note the color of his hair. What sort of mother forgets those things? ... view entire excerpt...

Discussion Questions

1. Empathy is a theme that runs throughout the book. Jamie's mother talked about him having the "gift" of extreme empathy, being able to feel what others were feeling. Do you believe that some people have this gift and if so, do you believe that Jamie had it? Maggie? Why or why not?

2. Discuss Maggie's feeling that she could connect to her father's spirit. Do you think she believed he was coming to her from "the other side?" How did her connection to him influence her actions? How did it influence her relationships with Laurel, Ben and Marcus?

3. Even though Andy was clearly the favored child, Maggie seemed to love him unconditionally and without resentment. Why do you think this was?

4. Maggie was an honors student with college plans and a bright future. What in her upbringing and personality allowed her to achieve so much? What in her upbringing and personality contributed to her falling so far?

5. Speculate as to why Jamie and Marcus were treated differently by their parents and the impact that treatment had on them and their relationship.
6. Were you able to remain sympathetic to Laurel during her post partum depression and alcoholism? What other emotions did you feel toward her?

7. Do you think Laurel ever doubted Andy's innocence? What do you think played into her assumptions and emotions? Could you relate to her desire to tamper with evidence to protect him? What would you have done in her place? Did you have doubts about his innocence yourself? Why or why not?

8. After learning that Keith had called Andy a "little rich boy," Laurel worried that Sara might resent her wealth. Do you think Sara was resentful of Laurel? Discuss the dynamics in their friendship and how they changed--or didn't change--over the years.

9. Which characters garnered the most sympathy from you? How did your feelings about Andy, Maggie, Laurel and Marcus change throughout the story?

10. In your opinion, should Andy be told about his relationship to Keith? What are your feelings about family secrets?


Notes From the Author to the Bookclub

It's often difficult for me to characterize my books, and Before the Storm is no exception. It's part suspense, part mystery, and one hundred percent family drama.

At the story's heart is fifteen-year-old Andy Lockwood, who was born with fetal alcohol syndrome. Although Andy has an IQ in the low normal range, he's a concrete thinker. . . and a lovable character. I never set out to make him a special needs teen, but as I started writing Andy's first chapter, his voice sounded very simple to me. I knew I had to come up with a reason for how young and naive he sounded. I had some experience with kids with fetal alcohol syndrome in my precious career as a clinical social worker, and Andy reminded me of them. Of course, after I settled on his developmental issue, I then had to think about his mother and why she drank while pregnant with him. Plotting is often a circular process!

Before the Storm is about how far family members will go to protect one another. It's about the choices people make that can come back to haunt them. And it's about the gradual unfolding of truths that keep the characters on edge and the reader turning the pages. I hope you'll enjoy it.

Book Club Recommendations

Member Reviews

Overall rating:
 
 
  "Amazing!"by nsjlh (see profile) 03/07/12

This is the second book of Diane Chamberlain I've read. Again, not a disappointment. This book is told via each different main character's point of view and done very well. The book focuses on the social... (read more)

 
  "Before the storm"by emptynester (see profile) 02/12/09

Our book club really enjoyed this book. She also called us to discuss the book. I went to her website and emailed her to call us and she did. A very nice lady and we had a good discussion about the... (read more)

 
  "Another Hit!!"by RuthieA (see profile) 11/07/08

Our club loved this book almost as much as The Secret Life of Cee Cee Wilkes, by Dianne Chamberlain also. Ms. Chamberlain has the ability to keep the reader guessing and usually not guessing correctly.... (read more)

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