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Discussion Guide

When Two Feathers Fell from the Sky

By Margaret Verble

Two Feathers, a death-defying young Cherokee horse-diver on loan to Glendale Park Zoo from a Wild West show, is determined to find her own way in the world. Two’s closest friend at Glendale is Hank Crawford, who loves horses almost as much as she does. He is part of a high-achieving, land-owning Black family. Neither Two nor Hank fit easily into the highly segregated society of 1920s Nashville.

When disaster strikes during one of Two’s shows, strange things start to happen at the park. Vestiges of the ancient past begin to surface, apparitions appear, and then the hippo falls mysteriously ill. At the same time, Two dodges her unsettling, lurking admirer and bonds with Clive, Glendale’s zookeeper and a World War I veteran, who is haunted—literally—by horrific memories of war. To get to the bottom of it, an eclectic cast of park performers, employees, and even the wealthy stakeholders must come together, making When Two Feathers Fell from the Sky an unforgettable and irresistible tale of exotic animals, lingering spirits, and unexpected friendship.

This discussion guide and recommended reading was shared and sponsored in partnership with Mariner books.

Discussion Questions

Use these discussion questions to guide your next book club meeting.

Why do you think the author made the decision to begin the story of Two Feathers and the Glendale Park and Zoo with “When It Was”? What does this introduction reveal about the story’s setting and historical context? What major themes and motifs of the novel does this preface introduce? How do you think your view of the book would have been different if the author had not included it?
How is Two treated in comparison to the other women at Glendale? Why didn’t Helen Hampton “feel like she could get as familiar with Two as she could with the other residents” (10)? How does Two cope with this? After she is injured, why doesn’t Two want her parents to have to travel on the train to get to her? Although Two acknowledges that she is treated differently because of her race, does she ever challenge this? Why or why not?
Discuss how the book creates a dialogue about racism and segregation in America. Two admits that she has been treated with prejudice both on the road and on the ranch. Where do we also find instances of this during her time at Glendale? How does racism influence the way that Two interacts with other people, such as her friend Hank Crawford? How is Crawford impacted by the segregation of 1920s Nashville? How does his status as a member of a landowning Black family affect this? When Crawford shares the news that his cousin has been beaten, how does Two respond to the news? How does she relate to Crawford’s experiences with racism and segregation, and where do their experiences diverge?

"Verble beautifully weaves period details with the cast’s histories, and enthralls with the supernatural elements, which are made as real for the reader as they are for the characters. This lands perfectly."—Publishers Weekly, STARRED review 


"This utterly memorable, beautifully written story will linger with readers."—Booklist, STARRED review 


"An ambitious novel that’s impressive in its scope and concept: Glendale Park Zoo and the 101 are rife with narrative possibility and give the author a chance to examine a fascinating cross section of race and class."—Kirkus 


"Effectively deploying her diverse cast of characters, Verble—an enrolled citizen of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma—captures the complex social interactions of the time. From race relations to social class to working conditions, Verble addresses key issues while spinning her ghost story around the fictionalized employees of a park that actually existed...Readers of general fiction will enjoy."—Library Journal 

“Two Feathers, tough and warmhearted, clear-eyed and funny, captivates from the first striking scene. Margaret Verble has created a remarkable world, rich with vibrant characters and layered histories, long obscured, that emerge to shape their lives in surprising, thought-provoking, and moving ways.” —Kim Edwards, bestselling author of The Memory Keeper’s Daughter and The Lake of Dreams