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Unbroken Spirit
Book Club Discussion Questions
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  • Consider the different approaches to memory between the Prologue that looks back from an adult perspective, and the early chapters that convey how things seemed to the author at the time they were occurring. Can we trust our memories? Do memories change over time? Do they change when we try to describe them?
  • How well do you remember incidents from your childhood? Could you describe them in detail?
  • What sorts of things did you do for play and as chores at age six?
  • Is there someone in your life whom you see as a mentor? How would your life be different without them?
  • What was your opinion of the author before the accident? Does it change after his accident?
  • If you could ask the author any question, what would you ask?
  • In what way has this book broadened your perspective about a difficult issue, either personal or societal?
  • The author has many different caregivers throughout his life. The most consistent seem to be members of his own family. How would you and your family cope with a similar situation?
  • Does the author criticize or admire his culture? Does he wish to preserve or change the way of life he grew up with? What would be risked or gained?
  • If you had the chance to go to a foreign country where you did not know the language, would you go? What if you had a disability or health problems?
  • What do you think the author's life would be like if he had not been severely injured? What do you suppose he would have chosen to do after high school? How would the lives of his family members have been different?
  • The author attended Indian Boarding Schools at the time that they forbade the use of Native languages and imposed militaristic discipline. Was he personally harmed or helped by his boarding school education? Was the boarding school system good or bad for the family as a whole at that time? Given what we are learning about the history of Indian Boarding Schools, how do you suppose that system had contributed to the author's family circumstances and lifestyle up to that point?
  • Talk about a specific passage that struck you as significant, interesting, profound, amusing, illuminating, disturbing, or sad. What made it memorable for you?
  • How has this book affirmed your ideas or made you think differently about: Fate, Faith, Culture, Family, Education, Medical Science, Nursing, or People with disabilities?
  • Look again at the structure of the book. What does the Postscript fill in that was not told or made clear earlier? How does one make peace with the distant past? With one's own past? How does one view the importance of family and culture differently between youth and adulthood?
  • Did reading this book make you want to write about your own life, now or in the future? Have you already started writing a memoir? How's it going? Has reading this book given you some new ideas about the process?

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