Reading Guide, Before the Storm
1. Empathy is a theme that runs throughout the book. Jamie’s mother talked about him having the “gift” of extreme empathy, being able to feel what others were feeling. Do you believe that some people have this gift and if so, do you believe that Jamie had it? Maggie? Why or why not?
2. Discuss Maggie’s feeling that she could connect to her father’s spirit. Do you think she believed he was coming to her from “the other side?” How did her connection to him influence her actions? How did it influence her relationships with Laurel, Ben and Marcus?
3. Even though Andy was clearly the favored child, Maggie seemed to love him unconditionally and without resentment. Why do you think this was?
4. Maggie was an honors student with college plans and a bright future. What in her upbringing and personality allowed her to achieve so much? What in her upbringing and personality contributed to her falling so far?
5. Speculate as to why Jamie and Marcus were treated differently by their parents and the impact that treatment had on them and their relationship.
6. Were you able to remain sympathetic to Laurel during her post partum depression and alcoholism? What other emotions did you feel toward her?
7. Do you think Laurel ever doubted Andy’s innocence? What do you think played into her assumptions and emotions? Could you relate to her desire to tamper with evidence to protect him? What would you have done in her place? Did you have doubts about his innocence yourself? Why or why not?
8. After learning that Keith had called Andy a “little rich boy,” Laurel worried that Sara might resent her wealth. Do you think Sara was resentful of Laurel? Discuss the dynamics in their friendship and how they changed—or didn’t change—over the years.
9. Which characters garnered the most sympathy from you? How did your feelings about Andy, Maggie, Laurel and Marcus change throughout the story?
10. In your opinion, should Andy be told about his relationship to Keith? What are your feelings about family secrets?