Questions for Discussion

LOOKING ALWAYS

  1. Bread in many cultures is fundamental to daily life and religious tradition. The recipes, the physical acts of bread-making, the gestures of offering and receiving bread, and the aromas can all form a basis of lifelong memory. To what extent do the bread-making scenes in this story connect with your own experiences?

  2. Several characters in this novel have contemplated or committed suicide in real or symbolic, intentional or unintentional ways. Thinking of each character’s experience, what did you find yourself thinking about their choices?

  3. How is the novel’s title, Looking Always, pertinent in the life of each character?

  4. What circumstances arose in each character’s life that required them to be courageous?

  5. How are characters in this novel affected by damages of war? 

  6. What emancipation-related challenges were faced by each of the central characters?

  7. Following his father’s example, at age sixteen Elliott became a journal writer. He came to realize that his journal contained him. “Its pages had architecture and formed the floor, walls, ceiling, doors, and windows of the space in which he thought and felt. In between the covers of his journal, he was at home with himself.” If you have ever kept a journal, how do the functions it served for you, for example, problem-solving, calming oneself, recording history, compare with the functions it served for Elliott?

  8. Elliott lost his eyesight in the car crash. How might his ability to “see” as a psychologist be affected by this loss of physical function?

  9. Milena’s letters described the ways she’d learned to rediscover life’s meaning, to avoid forever being held captive by the darkest of memories. What was it about those letters that had such a big impact on Elliott? 

  10. Looking at the book’s cover, which of the characters in the story do you think are portrayed in this painting? What aspects of the story come to mind as you view the cover?