Book Club Reading Guide
1. How do you interpret the book’s title, Forgotten Country? What has been forgotten and how does that affect the characters and their decisions?
2. How do the folktales and past family histories woven together with the present-day narrative work together to tell a complete story?
3. Secrets and truth are hidden or revealed in varying degrees throughout the novel. What are some of these truths and secrets? What motivates the characters to hide the truth or seek it out?
4. Forgiveness, and the inability to forgive, is a theme that runs through the book. What is forgiven and what isn’t – and why? Do you agree with characters or not in what they choose to forgive?
5. Hannah and Janie argue about Simchung, the protagonist of Janie’s favorite folktale. Hannah says the tale teaches girls to sacrifice themselves. Do you think that’s a fair criticism? What else does the tale, as well as the others in the book, teach and how do you think growing up with folktales affected each of the girls? What stories did you grow up with and how did they help you form your identity?
6. Is there a hero in this story? Who would you say he or she is and why?
7. Have the sisters come to an understanding at the end of the story? How has their relationship changed? How has your own understanding of the family changed?
8. What is each character’s relationship to Korea or America and how do these relationships differ? To what extent does each character belong or not belong to his or her country, culture, or family?
9. Loss and sacrifice are major themes in the novel. How do you think loss and sacrifice bring the family closer together? How do you think they push the family apart?