The Color of Joy

The Color of Joy Book Cover

Discussion Questions

Spoiler Alert: Please note that the questions below contain spoilers.

  1. Jenn describes herself as positive and optimistic, and she works hard to help her sister Sylvie adopt this attitude and improve her life. Discuss the relationship between the two sisters. How does it change from the beginning of the novel to the end? Also consider point of view and discuss how this plays into our perception of Sylvie and Jenn at different points in the novel.
  2. Consider the theme of forgiveness in the novel in terms of each characters’ experiences.
  3. In chapter twenty-seven, after losing her baby, Jenn says this to Sylvie: “…I don’t want him to think he has to carry me emotionally. He went through that before with his first wife…”…I knew [depression] could happen to anyone. I just didn’t believe it would ever happen to me. I’d always been incredibly rational and self-disciplined. I remained calm in a crisis when everyone else around me was in a panic—because I was in control of my mind and therefore my emotions. I almost never let them get the better of me.Discuss Jenn’s thoughts here and what these statements say about her character at this point in the novel. Do you feel she is truly strong or—even without the brain tumor—do you believe she is in denial about how strong she is? If so, how and why?
  4. From the moment we are introduced to Jenn in Chapter Eleven, who did you believe was responsible for the abduction of Riley and Lois’s baby—Jenn or Sylvie? Or someone else entirely? Did your suspicions change as the story unfolded? If so, how and why?
  5. Do you think, if Holly hadn’t called Riley in the bar, that he would have taken the drink?
  6. Compare the husbands of Lois and Jenn. How are they similar? In what ways are they different? What are the similarities that make them sympathetic characters in this novel?
  7. In Chapters Forty-two and Forty-three, leading up to the moment Jenn has her seizure in the restroom, do you believe she thought the baby was her own?
  8. Discuss how Jenn’s and Sylvie’s mother interacted with both daughters in terms of providing emotional support. What could she have done differently?
  9. Do you believe in ghosts? Why or why not? Have you ever had an experience with a ghostly presence?