Stones from the River
PAGE 3
Reading Group Discussion Questions
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  1. Why did Hegi choose a dwarf as her protagonist? How do the other characters respond to Trudi's "otherness"? How do you?
  2. What compels Trudi to unearth people's secrets? She uses these stories as a means of exchange and a tool for bartering, disclosing some secrets while holding back others, enhancing where she sees fit. What drives her to repeat and embellish the stories she hears? What need in her does it fulfill? Why, in contrast, does Trudi keep her own secrets hidden? How does her desire to possess secrets and her urge to tell stories change as the story progresses?
  3. Hegi portrays Trudi as a woman capable of both enormous rage and great compassion. The same woman who takes Max Rudnick a note which reads "I have seen you, and I find you too pitiful to consider," risks her life when she hides Jews in her cellar. How does Hegi reconcile these differences in her main character?
  4. When Trudi is fourteen years old, four schoolboys drag her into a barn and molest her. Trudi is profoundly affected—in what ways does this immediately change her? How does it continue to shape her in the coming years? Is Trudi ever able to overcome it? How?
  5. During the war, Trudi risks her life and her father's by hiding Jews in their cellar. How does this forever transform her relationship to people? What impact do her actions have on the town, and how does it change her standing in Burgdorf?
  6. How does Hegi develop the character of Leo? He is a constant support beam to the townspeople and to Trudi - how does he tie the story together? How are Leo and Trudi different from each other, and in what ways are they similar?
  7. As Nazism encroaches on Burgdorf, Hegi's characters are confronted with moral dilemmas that go far beyond their extraordinary experience. What are different ways in which the townspeople react? What reasons does Hegi suggest for their varying emotions and actions? What do you think you might have done differently in their place?
  8. After Michael Abramowitz is taken away and beaten by Nazis, his wife has a thought she never voices: "Given a choice, she would rather be the one who was persecuted than the one who did the persecuting." Do you think this is a feeling shared by other Jews during the war? By ordinary Germans? How would you choose?

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