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Book Club Wed Aug 05 2009

La Perdida Discussion Questions

Below are the questions we'll use to start discussing Jessica Abel's La Perdida. Feel free to post answers in the comments or join us on Monday, August 10, when we'll discuss the book in person at the Book Cellar. New members are always welcome to drop in.

  • How do you feel about Carla? Is she a likeable character? What are her motivations throughout the story?
  • How are Carla and Harry different? How are they similar? Why do they have a clash of ideals?
  • Why does Carla trust Memo and Oscar so much? Why is it important for her to spend more time with that group of people rather than with the people Harry introduces her to?
  • On p. 105 Memo tells Carla, "You don't know what it is to be a conquistadora. But here you are." What does he mean by that? What is he saying about American attitudes toward Mexicans? How does this help explain the inherent difference between Carla and Harry's group and Oscar and Memo's group?
  • Oscar's dream is to move to the US to be a DJ. Is this similar or dissimilar to Carla's aspirations? Why is Carla able to see the futility in Oscar's plan but not her own?
  • Why does Carla tear down her poster of Frida Kahlo? What is she trying to prove by this action?
  • Carla's brother Rod feels much more comfortable in Mexico than Carla does, but Carla admits that she was embarrassed for her brother when they were younger. What does this say about Carla's ability to accept her ethnicity when she was younger? How does this drive her actions in the present? Why does this make her jealous of Rod?
  • Why does Oscar get involved in the plan to kidnap Harry and Carla? What does he think he'll gain? Why does Carla try to talk him out of it?
  • At the end, Carla says, "The thing is, I thought the rules were different in Mexico, but they're not different." What rules is she talking about? How did she break the rules and how did that result in her participation in the kidnapping?
  • Has Carla changed at all by the end of the book? How does the author juxtapose scenes from Carla's early days in Mexico with her days since her return to Chicago? What point is she making by doing this?

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