Clay battles with trust all his life. What happens that causes him to begin to believe and trust in himself? Who are the people that Clay trusts without reservation? What spiritual/emotional affinity does he have with these characters?
The first ten chapters are an expression of Clay’s isolation. When he arrives in Cliff Falls he develops relationships that are meaningful to him and an internal struggle with his authentic self begins. Reagan gives him an assignment and Clay undergoes a process of redemption before he can complete it. Discuss the steps of this journey and why they were necessary.
Clay felt comfortable and accepted at Mike’s Pastry. “It occurred to him that ‘Little Guy Mike’ working at Mike’s Pastry was the equivalent of hiding in plain sight. So far the strategy worked… If Santa was Italian, this was what his workshop would look like… He loved this place” (25). Why was this place special to Clay and what does it symbolize to him?
There are parallels between Clay (the child star) and Ted (the pastor’s kid). How are they alike in their struggles and realizations? Were they both exploited? What about Tyler?
Burt was one of Clay’s “handlers” and now relentlessly pursues Clay. He is symbolic of the “voice of the accuser.” How do we begin to erase the lies that are written on our hearts? What about lies that have an element of truth?
What is Diego’s purpose in Cliff Falls?
How are Reagan and the Priest different and/or alike?
Clay is just looking for “the real thing,” whether that is tiramisu or a relationship. When Clay meets Becky he describes what he sees in her eyes as “…hope dwelling in a place of sadness. To him, that meant more than anything else he had heard or seen” (183). What is he talking about and what doesBecky see in him?
The Acorn Diner is symbolically significant. It is located between the city below and the church further up the hill. In what ways does it become a place of crossroads for Clay? How is the counter at the Acorn and the church alike and/or different?
“You are my beloved son, in whom I am well pleased” (204). When Clay hears these words he immediately flashes back to three painful childhood memories, he began to sob and his mask was stripped away. Why?
The falls are hard to find. The signs are hard to see. When Clay was ready to find the falls, he discovered them by wandering and listening (207). What did Clay discover about himself at the falls? If you’ve ever “gone over the falls” in your own life, what did you discover about yourself?
Clay’s mother is still making money off her son – selling items similar to the ones Clay destroyed in the fire. What is the real reason the “Highest Bidder” is buying them? (231)
“In wearing our mask we reject our true self and betray the humanity entrusted to us” (238). What truth does this hold for you?
The question the novel poses is less about if something exists, but more, how real it is to us. How does our belief in God, in ourselves, and in others affect our concept of belovedness as we go over the falls?
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