- Why does Mrs. Lawton leave her teenage daughter in charge? What weaknesses does Betsy have to overcome? What strengths does she draw on?
- How does Betsy regard her little brother initially? How do their attitudes toward each other change?
- What conflicts did she face within the small community?
- What prompted Betsy to think more independently? Is she a girl or a woman by the end of the book?
- What was your initial impression of Isabella? What did you think of her at the end of the book?
- 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?
- What do you consider the most frightening aspect of Betsy’s situation?
- Which people does Betsy lean on most? Why? Who leans the most on her?
- How does surviving the earthquakes together prompt changes in the six main characters?
- Do you see any parallels in the conflicts between racial and cultural groups in New Madrid and in society today?