Part I: A Woman on the Street
1. Describe the incident at the opening of the book. How does Jeannette Walls react? What does her mother later say in reaction to her daughter’s view of the situation?
2. Why do you think Walls opens the book with this story?
3. What do you now want to find out?
4. What are your initial views of the mother and daughter?
5. Look at the closing two lines of the section. What purpose do they serve?
6. Look at the epigraph before the section. What do you suppose it means? We will return to the epigraph at the end of the book.
Part II: The Desert
1. Describe the hot dog incident. What do we learn about Jeannette from the incident?
2. What do we learn about the father, the mother, and the family?
3. How does the outside world view the family?
4. Describe the father (good and bad). What is a genius?
5. Describe the mother.
6. Describe the children.
7. Explain why the family keeps moving.
8. Describe the children’s education. What is important to the family?
9. How does Jeannette feel about her parents? Examples?
10. What stories does the father tell? Why? What can we tell from his stories?
11. Where does the book get its title? Explain.
12. Describe how the parents first met.
13. Describe the importance of the Mary Charlene story.
14. Figure out the birth order and ages of the children.