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But in a cruel twist of fate, Sheila's body is found in the cornfields. Soon the little town of Zebulon, Mississippi, is awash in scandal. Who would want the innocent young woman dead? Her alcoholic father, her opinionated husband, or perhaps the faithfully married Lloyd Cotton, about whom unsavory rumors swirl?
Surprising secrets will crack open a rural community, and more than one family will suffer in the telling.
1. What do you think the author is trying to accomplish by telling the story from five different perspectives? Do you think this goal is achieved? Why do you think these particular points of view were chosen? Is there another character you wish she had chosen, and if so, why?
2. Sheila has a significant effect on the lives of nearly every character in the novel and their perceptions of her differ greatly. How would you assess her qualities? Was she strong, wise, simple, or merely pathetic?
3. Sheila's optimistic outlook influences nearly everyone around her. Do you know anyone like Sheila who seems to brighten the lives of everyone around them?
4. Annette grew up without siblings until Lil' Bit came along, andthis is in part why Sheila becomes her best friend. Do you have any brothers or sisters? If so, how do you think your life would have been different if you had been raised as an only child? If you are an only child, how would your life have differed with siblings?
5. Do you think Uncle Walter and Gloria should have taken Lil' Bit away from the Cotton family? How could the situation have been handled differently?
6. When Rowena is incapacitated after Lil' Bit is taken away, it is Sheila who pulls her out of her depression. Have you ever experienced a similar loss? What, or who helped you recover?
7. Why do you think Sheila chose not to tell anyone about Hugh raping her? What do you think would have happened had she told? How do you think the story is changed by the baby being conceived by rape as opposed to by Sheila having an affair with Hugh?
8. Lloyd and Rowena have both suffered disappointments in their marriage and yet there seems to be a strong bond between them. How would you characterize their relationship? What roles do Lloyd's affair, Sheila's murder, and Rowena's pregnancy play in their marriage?
9. What do you think would have happened if Sheila had lived? Would she and Stoney have raised the baby on their own? Would Hugh have eventually learned that the baby was his?
10. The identity of Sheila's murderer isn't revealed until very late in the novel. Were there other characters whom you suspected? If so, why did you suspect them?
11. Earlene Barnes feels guilty for not coming forward about Hugh's behavior earlier. Do you think that her information would have changed the situation? In what way? Has there ever been an instance in your life when you felt there would have been a different outcome if you had spoken up about an issue earlier?
12. Sheila teaches Annette the trick of walking through her shadow to help overcome her sadness and her fears. Do you have any tricks that help you deal with your emotions when something upsets you?
13. What are the "shadows" that each character faces? In what ways do they deal with these shadows differently? What shadows do you face in your own life? How do you handle them?
14. To what extent is the story dependent upon the time in which it occurs? Could these events have taken place in today's society? How might they have been different?
Posted March 27, 2006
Posted May 26, 2002
Walking Through Shadows tells the story of Sheila Barnes, a very unique seventeen-year-old girl who has a profound effect on the lives of the people around her. The novel is set in a quiet little town in Mississippi in 1941. Sheila, who has suffered from brutal abuse from her father, is invited to move to Lloyd Cotton¿s dairy farm to escape her horrible situation and work for him. Everyone who comes into contact with Sheila grows to adore her and the town is astounded when Sheila is found dead in the cornfields. All the characters are suddenly forced to deal with perplexing circumstances. But those who knew Sheila well and grieved the most would come to find that they have learned many lessons from her that would help them to deal with the tragedy of her death. Bev Marshall created an enthralling world that I was eager to visit each time I opened her book and sad to leave when I had to put it down for a moment. She has an extraordinary ability to allow the reader to hear each character¿s voice clearly. All the different accounts given by each character of the events in the story help the reader to see all the sides through many sets of eyes and commiserate with everyone involved. The story is beautifully crafted and undeniably magical. I identify with the young girl, Annette. I can relate with her innocent ways of viewing the world and how they caused her deep torment and confusion in trying to deal with the realities throughout the book. I believe everyone can find a character, if not several, to which he or she can relate. I¿m glad Bev Marshall is sharing her story with the world. I strongly urge everyone to pick up her book and enter this world she has created and be as enchanted as I have been.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 18, 2009
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