Emma in the Night

by Wendy Walker
Emma in the Night by Wendy Walker

Discussion Questions

1. Mrs. Martin's narcissism creates an interesting dynamic between Cass and Emma. Discuss how each girl coped with this - and the constant hostility in the home. Do you think this is why Cass wanted to shrink and become invisible, and Emma craved attention?

2. Do you think the sisters harbored jealousy towards each other? Were they competing for their mother's attention? Did their mother want them to be close siblings?

3. This book examines narcissistic personality disorder in detail. Discuss the mental abuse and manipulation throughout the story that was a result of this disorder, and its effects on the entire extended family. Talk about the dangers of Narcissism and whether it is curable. Will the children of narcissists develop the disorder?

4. Discuss the power struggles between the various characters; especially Mrs. Martin and each of her two daughters. Do you think there was a power struggle between Emma and Cass? Was Mrs. Martin successful in undermining her daughters' relationship?

5. Discuss your reaction to Mrs. Martin's need to constantly ask "Was I a good mother? The best mother you could ever want?" How did asking this question affect the girls? Why do you think they decided to lie to their mother about this when they got older?

6. How did Abby's exposure to narcissistic personality disorder help or hinder her in understanding Cass and solving the mystery of finding Emma?

7. Cass was forced to become an adult very quickly. Discuss her actions during those missing three years. Do you think the end justifies the means?

8. The two sisters and Mrs. Martin were not the only dysfunctional people in the family. Discuss the men in the family. Their half-brother. Why do you think he was so overprotective? Their father and his inability to take a stand concerning the girl's future? Their stepfather and his propensity to cross boundaries.

9. In the opening of the story, Cass says "We believe what we want to believe." The statement is repeated several times throughout the book. Discuss its significance. Is there a truth no one wants to believe?

10. Several of the characters changed as the story progressed. Who do you think changed the most? Which character surprised you the most? Who was the most dangerous character? Did this change for you as the story came to a close?

11. Who do you think was the real victim in this story? ..
Discussion questions by the publisher
Book Club Talking Points:
The main talking point of this book will be the many ramifications of narcissism; the damage a narcissist mother can wreak on her children and marriage. The power struggle between the various characters and the lies and secrets held and told are also discussion worthy, as are the actions and decisions of some of the characters.

Discussion Questions by PrincetonBookReview
(Feel free to use with attribution)

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