Use these discussion questions to guide your next meeting.
ABOUT THE BOOK
On a sunny summer morning by the sea in New England, Susan Ford’s cocoon of privilege is threatened when an Iraqi man from her distant past boards a plane in Baghdad to come find her.
Mrs. Ford leads a privileged life. From her Blenheim spaniels to her cottage on the coast of Watch Hill, Rhode Island, she carefully curates her world. Hair in place, house in place, life in place, Susan Ford keeps it under control.
Early one morning in the summer of 2014, the past pays a call to collect. The FBI arrives to question her about a man from Iraq—a Chaldean Christian from Mosul—where ISIS has just seized control. Sammy Fakhouri, they say, is his name and they have taken him into custody, picked up on his way to her house.
Back in the summer of 1979, on the outskirts of a declining Detroit, college coed Susan meets charismatic and reckless Annie. They are an unlikely pair of friends but they each see something in the other—something they’d like to possess. Studious Susan is a moth to the flame that is Annie. Yet, it is dazzling Annie who senses that Susan will be the one who makes it out of Detroit.
Together, the girls navigate the minefields of a down-market disco where they work their summer jobs. It’s a world filled with pretty girls and powerful men, some of whom—like Sammy Fakhouri—happen to be Iraqi Chaldeans.
What happened in that summer of 1979 when Susan and Annie met? Why is Sammy looking for Susan all these years later? And why is Mrs. Ford lying?
THE DISCUSSION QUESTIONS
One of the central themes of Finding Mrs. Ford is that of identity. Do you think we might be different people under different circumstances? Or do you believe that a person’s core essence always percolates up to the surface no matter what life brings? How has your definition of yourself changed or remained consistent over the years?
Finding Mrs. Ford takes place in two main locations: Watch Hill and Detroit, in two different eras: 1979 and 2014. Yet events in the larger world—specifically the 2014 takeover of northern Iraq by the self-styled caliphate, ISIS, and the strange bedfellows relationship between Detroit and Iraq in the late 70s/early 80s (true fact: Detroit Mayor Coleman Young presented Saddam Hussein with the Key to the City of Detroit in 1980)—form a backdrop to the smaller lives of the characters. Do you think the characters’ personal stories are made more relevant by the sweep of history that underpins their lives? How have world events affected your life?
Susan and Annie are very different types of women. The archetypes of Scarlett and Melanie from the book and movie, Gone With the Wind, were inspirational. Annie, like Scarlett, is a woman who operates with a high degree of self-interest and self-preservation. Susan, like Melanie, is more self-effacing and willing to take a backseat to her friend. Do you identify more strongly with one or the other? Do you think all women have a little bit of both types inside of them?
Finding Mrs. Ford: A Novel
Named one of the five must-read summer mysteries for 2019 by forbes.com
Named one of the top ten summer reads of 2019 by Good Morning America
Named one of the top fifty summer books of 2019 by Book Riot