Extended Study Guide/Book Club Prompt (SPOILERS)
1. Enya is never given any physical description. How did you envision her? Why do you think the author did this? Did it detract or enhance the story?
2. Enya means "Little Spark". How is Enya like a little spark in the story? Why is she not a big flame?
3. Enya keeps a lot of things from her friends. Is this a version of lying, or is she lying to herself? Can her heart be open and pure when she hides things from others or herself? How does one discern if they are not being truthful to themselves?
4. In the story, Enya doesn't see herself as having a lot of faith. Yet, Jacob thinks faith is what allows her to do what she does. Are they talking about different types of fatih? What is the difference between knowledge based faith (faith based on concepts) and an unknowing based faith (an inward experience)? What is the role of faith in religion, spirituality, and being in the present moment? What is the role of faith in fear? When was a time you had to have faith? Did it make a difference?
5. Enya's mom said what she is most scared of is living an unlived life, or dying before she has lived. Do people's greatest fears vary? What is the role of Ego in fear? What purpose does fear serve and knowing that, would it then be possible to lead a fearless life?
6. Jacob is grounded in science and has a healthy dose of skepticism. Yet, he is very spiritual and in the story is a vehicle for the mythic quality of spirit. Is this a contradiction? Can the two exist together? What is the relationship between knowing something and having faith? How does this apply to love? Ego? Fear?
7. In Islam, a major tenet is submission. In what ways does Enya submit to her fate? In what ways does she resist it? Similarly, how does Yasmin live her life? Is there such thing as fate, or are we creators of our world? Are the concepts of fate and creation mutually exclusive?
8. Yasmin on the surface is very devout, praying five times a day, eating halal, etc. Yet, we don't see much evidence of her faith otherwise. When confronted with challenges, she doesn't pray but takes effective action. She is a force of change in the world, whereas others spirituality is more passive as they hold themselves open to the mercy of whatever events they hold God's will to take place. The quality/nature of the faith is different, but is the quantity/degree of faith? In other words, is one more or less faithful than the other? Are there times when one approach is more useful than the other, or is the nature of faith steadfast and you can't pick and choose your approach to the situation?
9. Enya believes love is the opposite of fear, and even that love is all there is. If you take on the notion of fear as the absence of love, then in the presence of fear one brings love to it. If fear is often our ego talking, we are bringing love to our ego. How does loving the ego dismantle it? Think of a time you were profoundly affected by the power of acknowledgement.
10. Conversely, when you resist things, does it make them stronger? Think of an example of some dissatisfaction or uncomfortableness. Can you identify any resistance? Does the resistance make it persist more?
11. If resistance is judgement, how does Enya not judge? What purpose does judgement serve? Knowing that, is it possible to live a life free from judgement? Is all judgement from ego? Are there degrees to judgement, like ascertaining danger versus likes and dislikes that attribute to personal identity? Does Enya need to give up her love of board games and twenty one pilots? What is the relationship with judgement, attachment and the observer?
12. What is the relationship to judgement and forgiveness? And forgiveness to love? I.e. are they synonyms and expressions of each other (eg all forgiveness is love and all love us forgiveness) or is one a specific component and expression of the other?
13. Stages of love: Enya loves Jacob, and we see this love through different stages. Yet, Enya does not fully know all the aspects of Jacob (his crush, his ability to dream walk). We tend to love strangers first, when we know them as ideas and labels. What is the role of story (and the inherent roles/characters) in loving someone? Is it possible to just love a character/role? How do you know when you are loving someone completely, beyond their role, if their role is all you know of them?
14. The story introduces concepts that are not mainstream in Western society. Potlach from Native society and looking at time backwards from Aboriginal society. Imagine applying these concepts to your own life now. How did it feel to take on this view point, and did you glean anything from that new perspective? Was there a lot of resistance, and if so do you think that's mostly from it being novel or something else? Is there a perspective or notion you frequently lean on that you can try turning on its head?
15. There are a lot of fallacies of common thoughts elucidated in the book. That we fear death the most, that science is objective when there is actually a lot of belief and investment its results, answers and principles, etc. Can you think of other thoughts or presumptions taken for granted that have been left unexamined?
16. What securities does money or fame provide and what is the fear associated with their lack? If Enya does not need these things to assuage fear, what role do they serve in her life?
17. Enya forgoes common concerns in favor of her spiritual calling. Is it possible to be too spiritual?
18. Enya (and Jacob) asserts that under all anger is fear. Is this true?
19. Enya does not tell her best friends about her diagnosis until much later, which doesn't seem to make much sense at first. Do you think this is primarily because she is more introverted and needed time to process, because she saw it as a burden when her friends lives were already full of their own drama, because he needed to exert more control in her life or did she feel shame? Do you think she is more susceptible to new shame in the wake of the shame around her father's death? Do you think most people recognize shame as a motivating force in the moment, or only after? If there was a motivation of shame, why would she feel shame? Does shame ever make sense? What would you have done?
20. Enya's friends both figured out her secret before she told them, and she was surprised. Jacob points out the Ego's reaction, including the threat to itself but lack of threat to the soul. He makes the corralar when one is mad, they don't seem to realize they're mad but everyone knows they are and can exactly identify the problem the Ego is blind to. Similarly, other people can see into our soul and our goodness when we do not see it ourselves, as Yasmin seems to during the RV ride. Enya's culture says an individual is an expert on themselves, but this seems to go contrary to that belief. We may know ourselves least. Is this an aspect of Oneness -- a loss of individuality -- or another manifestation of Illusion/the Veil?