Express Yourself

Reading Guide

1. With is, arguably, a novel about innocence and experience. Where does Robin's innocence and experience begin? Which is better, innocence or experience?

2. When did you realize the point of view in the first chapter was not a human's but a dog's? What was your reaction?

3. How would you describe Robin's relationship with her mother Karen? Healthy or unhealthy?

4. Apart from his pedophilia, what sort of person is Sog? Does he have any admirable qualities at all?

5. What does Robin's step-grandfather, Leo Spurlock, contribute to Robin's story? What would With lose without his presence?

6. How would you describe Hreapha's relationship with Robin? How does it compare with Hreapha's mothering of her pups?

7. Why does Harington stage Sog's death in the outhouse? Are there any symbolic implications to the location or to the way he dies? And what bearing does Sog's dying in the outhouse have on Robin's subsequent life alone?

8. Which of Robin's experiences and lessons living alone on Madewell Mountain (after Sog dies) do you wish you could have had? Which ones would you wish your children or grandchildren could have?

9. How do Robin's cut-out dolls help her survive her loneliness, and what is their significance for the story?

10. Why name Robin's lover "Adam"? What associations does that name have? What implications might it have for the way Adam's in-habit can never leave Madewell Mountain?

11. Apart from Hreapha, which member of Robin's menagerie is your favorite, and why?

12. Why does Robin settle for sending a letter to her mother after her visit to Latha instead of just returning to her?

13. Why is it necessary for Adam to have such an extensive career in the California wine industry?

14. How did you feel when the tenses began to change at the end of the book? What do the tense changes accomplish?

15. How can the book end with Robin thanking Sog? What would she have lost if Sog had never kidnapped her and she had had a "normal" childhood in Harrison?


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