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Book Club Discussion Questions

Recent studies reveal one in four girls and one in thirteen boys experience child sexual abuse at some point in childhood. In what ways, have you navigated this sensitive topic? Have you done so with your own children? Do you struggle to find resolution with experiences relating to sexual abuse in your own past? Could you talk with your parents about it? On page 81, Tuni requests that her parents go to therapy with her. Can you imagine someone you love (or yourself) confronting both their predator and the predator’s silent accomplice? Was it the right thing to do?

Does it make sense that she felt more desperation because of her mother’s lack of protection than she did by her father’s sexual abuse?

Is it most probable that Tuni’s parents were not raised to discuss these kinds of issues, resulting in their misguided approach to the subject? Is that excuse enough? Did a lack of a spiritual component or religious education in their household contribute to the family system’s dysfunction?

She continues, “They will remember what they saw behind their squeezed eyelids. They will remember the taste of the acid rising into the backs of their throats, the pain pressuring into their skulls, the color of the wood framing the door, the time travel, the day of the week, the color of the sheet, the taste of their own tongues, the blood, the dying…” Does this ring true to you? Can you recall a traumatic experience in patches of vivid detail? Can these experiences compartmentalize themselves into comprehensive memories, but be surrounded by blank pages of memory before or after?

Preceding that quote on the same page, Tuni discovers that her response to sexual intercourse for so many years was a stored somatic releasing of her past trauma. And by choosing to reflect on and decipher that response, she could eventually transform the somatic experience into something different, and ultimately healthier. Can you think of patterns of behavior in your own life that feel out of your control? Do you believe you could reroute or transform these memories embedded in your biology?

Do you think that slowed her ability to truly process her experiences? Is there one right way to heal from trauma? Can you think of a time when art in any form became the tool for your own survival of trauma? And how did that manifest for you?

Did she have any healthy mentor-type relationships growing up? Or did the trauma in her childhood make developing positive and supportive relationships too challenging? Would you consider this a similar dynamic in situations of childhood bullying? Or cyber bullying? When children become victims of aggression of any kind, does that out rule creating or sustaining healthy relationships as they move into adulthood? What about mentors? Is it possible that the art of dance acted as Tuni’s mentor or that her fantasy world was her nurse?

Does it make sense that Tuni lacked the ability or the tools to navigate others’ hardships/depression, even when she had so much experience with it?

Or did Tuni have an innate sensual nature that spurred those types of interactions to come her way? Did her physical appearance factor into how we interpret, in her case, consent, victimhood, and agency?

Sometimes, a radical template of discipline encourages self-criticism. Many believe to befriend the self-critic, acknowledge its presence while simultaneously practicing self-compassion, is an effective way of allowing one’s life to unfold in grace, and step forward in love. Would you agree?

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