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Book Club Kits: White is for Witching

Alamance County Public Libraries offer Book Club Kits for check out to area book clubs. Each kit contains 10 copies of a book and a reading guide.

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Book Summary

Miranda is at home—homesick, home sick ...

As a child, Miranda Silver developed pica, a rare eating disorder that causes its victims to consume nonedible substances. The death of her mother when Miranda is sixteen exacerbates her condition; nothing, however, satisfies a strange hunger passed down through the women in her family.

And then there’s the family house in Dover, England, converted to a bed-and-breakfast by Miranda’s father. Dover has long been known for its hostility toward outsiders. But the Silver House manifests a more conscious malice toward strangers, dispatching those visitors it despises. Enraged by the constant stream of foreign staff and guests, the house finally unleashes its most destructive power.

With distinct originality and grace, and an extraordinary gift for making the fantastic believable, Helen Oyeyemi spins the politics of family and nation into a riveting and unforgettable mystery. (From the publisher.)

Discussion Questions

  1. Why does Miranda feel responsible for her mother's death?
  2. Describe the house as a character in Oyeyemi's book. Talk about its history. What is the house's metaphorical significance—the xenophobia and the urge to suffocate and entrap women? What is meant by its comment: "I can only be as good as they are. We are on the inside, and we have to stay together, and we absolutely cannot have anyone else"?
  3. What does this book suggest about personal identity, or the self? Eliot and Miranda reflect each other, they see themselves in the other. Is the self real...or is self-identity merely a figment of another person's perception of you?
  4. What does the ideal of perfection mean to Miranda? Why is she so drawn to the "perfect person" and to the drawing of herself, "unmarred by human flaw" she finds in Lily's studio?
  5. What does the house and its ghosts want of Miranda?
  6. Does Goodlady exist or is she in Miranda's imagination?
  7. How would you describe the atmosphere of the book—what words, imagery, and ideas does Oyeyemi use to establish mood?
  8. What is Miranda's fate? Is she imprisoned? Has she disappeared or died?
  9. What is the meaning of the book's title?
  10. Overall, what was your experience reading this book