1. Rebecca Wells writes that the pecan that Teensy stuffed up her nose becomes a talisman of the origins of the Ya-Ya tribe, “who always made themselves up as they went along and always tried to see what they could hold inside an still keep breathing.” (p. 19). What are some of the things the Ya-Yas held inside? Do you think women should keep some things inside, or let them out? Why or why not?
2. The relationships of mothers and daughters are a dominant theme in the Ya-Ya books. In this one, we learn a great deal more about the mothers of the original Ya-Yas. Vivi Abbott’s mother, Mary Katherine, is called “Buggy” because she claimed she could speak in tongues (p. 14), and Genevieve Whitman is called “an uppity woman” (p. 38). How do the personalities of the mothers affect each of the daughters, Vivi and Teensy? Why do some daughters try to be like their mothers and others rebel against them?
3. The stories “Buckaroo” and “Circling the Globe” are told through the eyes of Baylor as a child. “Safety” is one of the stories told from his point of view as an adult. Talk about what kind of little boy he was. Does the child mold the man? Specifically is his choice of profession a good fit for him? Is his behavior as an adult consistent with the child he once was?
4. The impulse to protect one’s family is extraordinarily powerful for parents. Baylor’s first impulse after the kidnapping is to go out and buy a gun. He doesn’t. Why not? Do you agree with his decision? Would you have a gun in your house? Why or why not?
5. Take a close look at Vivi Abbott’s marriage to Big Shep Walker. What was wrong with it? What was right with it?
6. What are the Mysteries? How does an awareness of them change the way we perceive life . . . and death?