Book Group Guide

The questions that follow are intended to enhance your group’s reading and discussion of THE ATLAS OF FORGOTTEN PLACES by Jenny Williams


Warning: spoiler alert! To preserve enjoyment of the novel, please review this section after you’ve finished the book.

1. How much did you know about northern Uganda before you read the novel? Do you feel like your perspective has changed?

2. Who did you connect with more, Rose or Sabine?

3. What is justice in this novel? Can wrongs be righted?

4. Did Rose’s revelation about her ties to Joseph Kony take you by surprise? Would it have changed the way you felt about her if you knew the truth from the start?

5. Sabine’s career choice was shaped in large part by her guilt over her grandfather’s secret. Do you have family secrets or parts of your family history that have influenced your choices in life?

6. Was Lily’s decision to search for Opiyo noble, or was it selfish? What if she had been investigating ivory smuggling—would that change how you see her?

7. What does forgiveness mean to you? Can a person be forgiven for many years of wrong acts by a single good act? What about the reverse? Should a person be condemned for a single wrong act after many years of doing good?

8. The Aboke abductions in 1996 were given little attention by the US media. On the other hand, the 2014 kidnapping of 276 Nigerian schoolgirls by Boko Haram sparked worldwide outrage and demand for international action—the hashtag #BringBackOurGirls was even shared by First Lady of the United States Michelle Obama. Do you think this disparity can be attributed solely to the rise of social media? Or have attitudes shifted in the 18 years between these incidents?

9. Do you think a single person can make a difference? Why would it be dangerous to think so? Why would it be dangerous not to think so?

10. What do you think lies ahead for the characters in this novel?

11. The author has said that she feels the novel ends hopefully, if not happily. Do you agree? Why or why not?