Desert Crossing Discussion Guide

Desert Crossing

Some Questions for Classroom or Book Club Discussions…

  1. The desert setting is an important backdrop to the plot of Desert Crossing. How does it lend atmosphere to the story? How does Lucy’s view of the desert change?
  2. Desert Crossing is a book about moral choices. Do you agree or disagree with the choices Lucy, Jamie, and Kit make in the aftermath of the accident? What would you do differently?
  3. Why does Lucy steal the girl’s bracelet?
  4. Why does Lucy feel such a sense of responsibility toward the dead girl?
  5. What kind of relationship do Lucy, Jamie, and Kit have with their parents? Do they turn to them for help when they get in trouble? Why or why not?
  6. What is the role of art in Desert Crossing? How are Lucy’s drawings and Beth’s sculptures important to the story?
  7. Lucy and Kit have very different reactions to Jamie’s relationship with Beth. Why?
  8. What is Jamie and Lucy’ relationship like before the accident? How does it change over the course of their ordeal in the desert?
  9. After Lucy convinces Kit to help her find out what happened to the girl, they play very different roles in solving the mystery. Do they make a good team? Why or why not?
  10. Why are Lucy and Kit able to discover information about the girl that the police could not?
  11. How does Lucy’s option of Kit change as she spends more time with him?
  12. Why does Lucy feel that Kit is the wrong boy for her to love? Why does she have a relationship with him anyway? Does she regret it?
  13. In Desert Crossing, Lucy is always trying to do the right thing, but sometimes does the wrong thing to get the right result. Give two examples of this. Would you have done what Lucy did?
  14. Although Lucy and Kit never find out exactly what happened between We Wicker and the girl, or between Wes Wicker and other young women in the past, they have an idea. Why do you think Wicker was never caught?
  15. Aspects of Desert Crossing echo the journey in The Wizard of Oz. What parallels can you find between the two stories? Dorothy, the Scarecrow, the Tin Man, and the Cowardly Lion go to Oz looking for something they’re missing, whether it’s a way home, a brain, a heart, or courage. What do you think Lucy, Kit, Jamie, and Beth are each looking for?
  16. Lucy never does find out the identity of the dead girl, but by the end of the book, she’s satisfied that she has done what she needed to do. When Lucy says, “Not knowing could be a kind of knowing, ” what does she mean?
  17. Desert Crossing is a book about crossing boundaries, moving into unknown or forbidden territory. Discuss what lines are crossed in the book and how those “crossings” affect the characters.
  18. At the beginning of the novel, when Lucy, Jamie, and Kit find the dead girl, Lucy says, “There are moments when everything changes.” By the end of the book, based on this one experience, what has changed for Lucy, Jamie, and Kit? How do you think they will be different in the future?