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Charm, Claire and Allison all serve as Joshua’s mother at some point in the novel. In the end, who is the best mother? Why do you think so? How does each of these characters evolve throughout the story?

The women in the story all love Joshua in their own way. What else do they have in common? What are their differences?

Describe Charm’s relationship with her mother. How does Charm demonstrate her determination to be different than her mother? What qualities do they share?

Olene, the director of the halfway house where Allison resides, tells her to “meet the world with hope in your heart.” What does this quote mean for each of the main characters? What does it mean for your own life?

Water is consistently referenced throughout the novel. What is its significance? What message do you think the author is trying to relate to the reader?

Many of the characters in this novel have hopes and expectations for their family members that are not met. How do the various characters deal with their disappointment? Are their reactions justified? Do you relate to this in your own life?

We see glimpses of Allison and Brynn’s parents through each girl’s eyes. How have their parents shaped each girl? How have their roles in their family defined their relationship? How have your parents shaped you?

How does public perception of Allison and Brynn differ from how the sisters view themselves—and each other? How does this change throughout the book? How did your perceptions of Brynn and Allison change as you learned more about each character?

It is Christopher that connects Allison to Charm, yet his presence in the story is seen only through the eyes of women in his life. What was your impression of Christopher? Why do you think Allison fell in love with him?

In These Things Hidden , several characters take on the role of a parent—for example, Devin, Olene, Gus—for a child to whom they are not biologically related. What makes a good parent? Has there been anyone in your life who has represented the role of a parent for you? Have you done this for anyone in your life?