Book Club Discussion

Becoming Jesse is a classic family novel, which speaks to a splendid, nurturing sense of intertwining relationships in all the characters, especially the beguiling Jesse and his magical effect on those around him. The pages shine with real life, and so we learn to live in the bounds of surprise and delight, giddy and profound reflections, and the outright magic of sharing the very best.
Use the questions and ideas below to help find the stardust and Light in Jesse’s story and in your own.

Discussion Questions

  1. Why does Jesse grow up with his grandmother and uncle? Why doesn’t he know anything about his mother? Why hasn’t he ever visited the family’s summer place in Port Haven?
  2. How does the brownstone apartment building become a part of Jesse’s extended family? How does Jesse’s experiences with his Dearie, uncle and neighbors build his character? (Discuss how some of these characters influence and nurture Jesse: Dearie – Conor – Mac – Maguires – Schuylers – Goreckis – Romanos – Bonheurs.)
  3. Why does it take so long for Jesse’s quest? What is he learning along his way? Which lessons are most meaningful to you?
  4. Who is your favorite storyteller? (Old Barret? Dearie? Mac? One of the neighbors?) Why? Which stories resonate with you?
  5. Why doesn’t Jesse see the mischief that Grams Maguire perpetrates? How does his friendship with her grow? What does it have to do with her grandson, Billy Maguire? Why is Grams ready to accept Dearie’s lesson of Kintsugi?
  6. How does the wordplay of Spoonerisms and made-up words help to define Dearie and Jesse’s character? What are your favorite examples?
  7. What qualities and strengths does Jesse bring to his everyday adventures? How is Jesse’s magic — his Light — portrayed through his relationships? How is his Light depicted through qualities such as imagination, memory, problem solving, patience and fortitude? How do these help Jesse solve the puzzles?
  8. Discuss the importance of Jesse’s dream. What does Dearie tell Jesse to help make his dreams come true? How do Jesse’s dreams manifest? Can you look into your life and see the magic of how many of your dreams have come true?
  9. Discuss how Jesse’s character evolves through storytelling, literature, music and theater. Give examples of each.
  10. What does Jesse’s relationship with Billy teach you about Jesse’s character? What are two of Jesse’s dreams that come true in relationship to Billy? When Jesse forgets his Light lessons with Billy, what are the consequences to their friendship?
  11. How does this story deal with death? Jesse is so full of Light Lessons, yet it all disappears in his deep, numbing grief. How did this happen? What is it that helps Jesse find his Light?
  12. Which lesson does Jesse think is the greatest? Why? What is the most important thing Jesse has learned by the end of his story?
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