Tails California     

  1. Bethany and Ella have a sisterly bond, but there is also competition/jealousy. What made the sisters this way?
  2. Ryan and Maks get in a fight with Kari’s lover. Would Bethany have been more understanding if the incident hadn’t involved fists and police? Would Ryan have participated had Maks not done so first?
  3. How is Bethany taking on the role of mother? Is it enough? How does Ryan take on the role of both father and mother, too? If Kari had died the year before, how would Ryan have handled it then? Would the kids have been more or less traumatized?
  4. What are the major themes of the novel? How are they related?
  5. What does the cover’s progression of imagery symbolize?
  6. Religion plays a significant role in both this book and HEADS CAROLINA. In which does Bethany’s faith seem stronger? What about Ryan’s? Is there any time when Bethany loses her faith?
  7. For a long time, Ryan refuses to show that he is saddened over Kari’s death. Why? Is it being brave for his kids or because he is afraid of what Bethany may think? What are the ways you can tell he is holding back? When he cries for the first time, is he still holding back? How does his ability to let his guard down change by the end of the story?
  8. Toward the end of the novel, Bethany gets a job offer. What does it say about Bethany that she was ready to take it right away? What does it say about Ryan that he automatically turned it down? Were either of the characters thinking more of themselves than their partner?
  9. What role does adoption play in Bethany and Ryan’s story?
  10. Written and illustrated by Sallie, “Unicorn’s Rainbow Adventure” symbolizes her sadness and feeling alone, but at the end it showed there is love. What makes Sallie feel secure by the end of the story? What other characters feel alone in Tails California and how do they show it? Are they now secure also?
  11. The ending of the novel only ties up the job situation. What did you think about the ending and why? Should it have wrapped up their personal relationship more definitively? Do you think they are happy and, if so, what does that mean and look like? Or, do you believe they never make it as a couple? Write your ending.