1. Why does Mrs. Lawton leave her teenage daughter in charge? What weaknesses does Betsy have to overcome? What strengths does she draw on?
  2. How does Betsy regard her little brother initially? How do their attitudes toward each other change?
  3. What conflicts did she face within the small community?
  4. What prompted Betsy to think more independently? Is she a girl or a woman by the end of the book?
  5. What was your initial impression of Isabella? What did you think of her at the end of the book?
  6. Why do you think Rabbit befriended Johnnie, a boy six years younger? Do you think the friendship/flirtation between Betsy and Rabbit will become serious?
  7. What do you consider the most frightening aspect of Betsy’s situation?
  8. Which people does Betsy lean on most? Why? Who leans the most on her?
  9. How does surviving the earthquakes together prompt changes in the six main characters?
  10. Do you see any parallels in the conflicts between racial and cultural groups in New Madrid and in society today?