Book Group Discussion Guide

Book Group Discussion Guide for Child of Desire 
by Verla Lacy Powers

About the Book

Amanda’s dreams are shattered when she finds herself in a loveless, childless marriage. Living with relentless sadness, she comes to believe that being a mother would bring her the happiness for which she longs. This yearning for a child to hold in her arms provides the motivation for Amanda to enter into a daring conspiracy to lay claim to another woman’s child. Unfortunately, Amanda has no idea of the resulting difficulty and additional heartbreak that will come into her life.


Issues and circumstances faced by people in the United States during the Great Depression, as well as during post-depression years, influenced the setting and impacted the actions of the characters in Child of Desire. While circumstances in large cities at that time led to long bread lines and feelings of hopelessness for many, in rural communities and small town America, people cared for one another and developed exceptional survival skills. They grew gardens, hunted, fished, and harvested wild crops of berries and nuts, and they shared their bounty with their neighbors. Bartering was a common practice during that period and included people of all levels of society. It was not unusual for a doctor to treat a patient in exchange for a chicken or a pile of chopped wood.

Protestantism was the prevailing influence on culture in rural areas and small towns. Many unwritten rules that guided communities came from the belief system of the dominant church in the community and were enforced by peer pressure.

The place of women in the culture of the early 1900’s might cause modern young readers to cringe and criticize characters’ actions. However, as with any period in history, those born during this time fulfilled their proper roles in order to fit into society. In order to be true to the historical moment in time, women and girls in Child of Desire accept their place, though they often chafe under societal restrictions.

Discussion Guide


  1. Who are the key characters in the story?
  2. Which secondary characters play the most important roles in moving the story forward?
  3. Is there a character you particularly like? Why?
  4. Is there a character you greatly dislike? Why?
  5. What is Amanda’s main character flaw (limitation, imperfection, problem, phobia, deficiency)?
  6. If you could describe Sam in one word, what word would you use?
Key Concepts

  1. Discuss Amanda’s identity as a daughter, friend, and wife. In which role is she most comfortable?
  2. Amanda idolized her mother who died when she was a child, but who actually wields the most influence over her life?
  3. Does Amanda share any responsibility for the problems she has with Luke? Why or why not?
  4. Amanda’s relationship with Sam is plagued with problems. Why do you think Amanda continues in this relationship?
  5. Who does Amanda trust most in her life? In what ways is that trust betrayed?
  6. How does Amanda handle setbacks (e.g. Papa’s marriage, Luke’s rejection, Sam’s flirtation with Deborah, mother-in-law’s indifference)?
  7. In what ways does Amanda deal with anger and forgiveness?
  8. Describe Amanda’s relationships with Sam’s church members in Philadelphia and Colorado.
  9. Which people are victimized by Amanda’s quest to have a baby in her life?
  10. Is Amanda also a victim of this quest? Why or why not?
  11. What was the most unexpected part of the novel for you and why?

  1. Did any incidents or scenes make you laugh?
  2. Did any incidents or scenes bring tears to your eyes?
  3. Did any situations make you angry?
  4. How do you feel about Amanda’s deceitful plan? Did you root for her to pull off the fraud? 

  1. Considering the lack of technology during the time of the story, do you feel that the plan designed by Amanda and Mary was feasible?
  2. Did you already know about this time in our country’s history? If not, did you research to find information?
  3. Were you surprised to discover the ages at which young girls were married in the early 1900’s
Actions and Reactions 

  1. Do you find the actions of any of the characters troubling and inconsistent with the attributes they were given?
  2. How did Amanda change over time?
  3. What about Luke’s personality makes him vulnerable to sabotaging his own agenda?
  4. How is Sam’s public persona different from his private persona?
  5. If you were to describe Amada’s family, what three words would you use? Explain your choices.
  6. If you were to describe the family of Sam and Luke, what three words would you use? Explain your choices.
  7. At any point in the story did you root for Deborah to win back Sam’s affection?
  8. Do you think Sam really was a good husband, but Amanda was too self-focused to recognize that fact?
Theme of the Novel

  1. Does this story have a central theme? If so, what is that theme?
  2. Are there secondary themes? If so, are they connected in such a way as to move the story forward and develop a single storyline?

  1. Do descriptions of location and environment enhance the story or serve only as backdrop? Explain.
  2. Can you easily visualize the places that were described? Why?
  3. Does the telling of the story transport you to the time and place?
  4. Does each character have distinctive traits and features that make him/her easy to envision and remember? Describe some of the easily remembered traits and/or features of Papa.
Likes, Dislikes, and Expectations

  1. Did you enjoy the book? Why or why not?
  2. Was the book more interesting than enjoyable for you? Why?
  3. Do you think you might have enjoyed the book more if you understood more about the history of the early 1900’s?
  4. What were your expectations from reading the title of the book?
  5. Were you disappointed when you discovered the direction the story was moving? If yes, why?
  6. Would you have completed the book if you were not reading it for a book group?
  7. What is your opinion of the book’s cover?
  8. Would you recommend this book to someone else?

  1. Did reading this novel change the way you think about or judge the actions of others?
  2. Were you inspired to read other fiction that is set in the period between 1900 and 1940?

  1. What do you think will happen to Amanda and Sammy in the future?
  2. What response do you think Luke will have to Amanda’s revelation?
  3. Who do you think was the father of the baby? 

  1. On a scale of 1 – 5, how would you rate this novel? Provide the rationale for your rating. 

Author Bio

Verla Lacy Powers is a retired educator who lives in Kansas with her husband. 


Verla Powers’s moving story of a wife’s desire to become a mother will captivate and inspire anyone who has unfulfilled dreams.”
~ Editorial Review, Tate Publishing & Enterprises

“The characters and places really came alive. You have eastern Colorado nailed. I’m quite familiar with rural Colorado. I can relate to the out house, wood stove and carrying water. Wow!  Brought back memories of a different time and place.”
~ Review by Juanita Moon, Author of African Moons

“I was hooked after the first couple pages & read thru the night. Your vivid descriptions brought back many memories of a time long past & certainly brought to life the saying, ‘Oh what a tangled web we weave, When first we practice to deceive.’ I admire your command of the language & your imagination …” 
~ Review by Roy Palmer, Colorado Springs

“I found this book an easy read that sets the details and time period accurately! It opens with a young woman ready to embrace life. Her handsome young husband, a new clergyman, sweeps her from her humble life in the country to the city life. Beneath the struggles of adjustment to a new life, she discovers a deep desire for a family.”
~ Review by Read4LifeMC

 Some Reviews from Amazon:

“It was a real page turner for me, and I experienced all the emotions the main character, Amanda, did! It is a well-written story, as well as "true" fiction with realistic facts about life in VA (and Colorado) in the 1930's. I highly recommend it!”

“Apparently you CAN judge a book by its cover! I was initially drawn to this book by the strikingly beautiful and simple cover. Although I have a kindle, I had to get the hardback book for that reason. The story drew me in slowly and before long I was seeing it play out in my mind like a movie. My favorite kind of book! Now, several months have gone by since I've read it, and still I think of the characters and want to know more. I'm hoping the author will read this review and consider a sequel.”

“I loved the author's use of people, with flaws and strengths! They faced their challenges with the same uncertainty we all have! I could relate with each character! I liked the twists and turns of the story, it was exciting and unpredictable. I highly recommend the book.”

“I really enjoyed this book. I found the characters engaging and the plot intriguing. I recommend this book. It took me about 30 pages to get into it, but once I was, I couldn't put it down. I was rooting for the main character throughout the book.

I started reading this one evening and couldn't put it down. I finally did put it down at 4:00 a.m...when I finished it! It is a fascinating read. I highly recommend it.”

“This book places you in rural America in the early 1930's. The story pulls you through with the kind of speed that won't let you put it down. You will find yourself some where in this book. Not a book for sissies. My stomach is still in my throat. It made me see people and situations of life differently. You'll make others read it.”

"It was a real page turner for me, and I experienced all the emotions the main character, Amanda, did! It is a well-written story, as well as "true" fiction with realistic facts about life in VA (and Colorado) in the 1930's. I highly recommend it!"

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