Nature versus nurture? For an adopted child, especially a troubled child, questions of identity can be haunting. The Earthquake Child tells the story of Joshua — a beautiful, lovable boy adopted soon after birth into a Jewish family. As he grows, Joshua’s high-risk behaviors — acting out, running away, and eventually becoming involved with drugs — drive his adoptive mother to despair. This novel of adoption is told through the voices of an adoptee, his desperate young birth mother, and his loving, but grieving adoptive mother. Their voices will resonate with those who have been part of the adoption triangle — adoptees, women who have relinquished a child, and parents who have added a child to their family through adoption — as well as those who question what makes our children uniquely who they are. The novel asks important questions about the nature versus nurture conundrum — knowing there are no simple answers.
The Earthquake Child: A Novel
September 1, 2021
Courtesy of Elayne Klasson
- In what ways does Joshua manifest his sweetness, as exemplified in the Buddha Within Him chapter?
- In what ways is Eleanor clear-eyed about her son and in what ways do we see her kidding herself.
- Try to describe what factors you see as nature in Joshua.
- Try to describe what factors you see as nurture in Joshua.
- How do you think Joshua might have been different had he had more time with Ron?
- What advice would you give to Eleanor before she sends him to Mount Richmond? Are there other options she may not have considered?
- Explain what the epigraph of this novel, taken from A.M. Homes, means to you. “To be adopted is to be amputated and sewn back together. Whether or not you regain full function, there will always be scar tissue.” Why would there be scar tissue, if an adoption takes place at, or very close to birth?
- How can adoptive parents be better prepared before and after they adopt.
- How close have you come, in your personal experience, to any members of the adoption triangle: a birth mother who relinquished her child, an adopted child, or an adoptive mother?
- Have your ideas about adoption changed in any way after reading The Earthquake Child? What advice have you for parents who are contemplating adoption?
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