1. Maria, Emily and Arthur are suddenly catapulted into a dangerous world. What is the most frightening situation you have ever been in? How did you deal with it? Does it still affect you now? In chapter fifteen Maria has the thought: It seemed like terrorists could do just about anything these days. Do you think this is true? How does that make you feel?
2. Maria finds Arthur’s cheerfulness annoying, but Emily doesn’t. What do you think of Arthur as a person – do you think you would find him frustrating or encouraging? If it were you, who would you most like to have with you on a dangerous journey?
3. Would you have happily have broken into houses and helped yourself to anything in the garden centre, as Maria did (assuming a similar situation), or would you have reservations about what you were doing? Do you think boundaries might change in emergency situations?
4. Maria admits near the beginning of the novel that she doesn’t like her family much, but this seems to change as the story unfolds. Why do you think that was? How would you feel about your family if you were in Maria’s situation? Is there anything you could do to improve your relationships now?
5. Maria and Emily’s grandparents promise to pray for them. Is there anyone praying for you that you know of? How does that make you feel? Could you pray for someone going through a hard time? Maria wanted to pray when Rufus’ life was in danger. If you were in a situation where you needed a miracle, for example if a pet or a friend was in danger, do you think you would pray, or at least try to?
6. Talking about the horse, Arthur says, “How can anyone believe that something as beautiful as this happened by accident?” and later, “… despite the evidence, some people still believe in evolution.” What do you think about Arthur’s belief in creation?
7. In chapter twenty-three Arthur tries to explain to Maria about his belief that Jesus’ death was a sacrifice for the sins of the world. Do you think he explains his beliefs well? Do you think Maria genuinely doesn’t understand, or doesn’t want to?
8. The new world is still evolving around Maria, Emily and Arthur as they make their way to the coast. For example, in chapter twenty-five the chauffeur, says: “Mr Oliver is taking over this part of the country.” If there was no longer a government or police force to keep law and order, do you think this is what would happen?
9. Maria realises that she’s going to miss Arthur when they go their separate ways, even though at times she found him frustrating. Who would you miss most if they moved out of your life? Is there someone you miss now?
10. Maybe, Maria reflected at the end of the story, there could be someone out there who would take care of her, whatever happened. Do you think there is a spiritual reality we can’t see with our eyes?
Extra Question: If you were making this book into a movie, who would you cast? 🙂
With thanks to Brenda Lord for her help in preparing these discussion questions.