Book Club Discussion Questions

Were you familiar with this part of history? What did you know about pioneer life? Native American life on the plains? Had you been educated about the US-Dakota war in history classes?

What interested you in Emma’s perspective? Were there parts that you related to? Parts you didn’t relate to? Did you find her a sympathetic character?

What interested you in Oenikika’s story? Were there parts that you related to? Parts you didn’t relate to? Did you find her a sympathetic character?

How did you react to Chief Little Crow’s choices? What would you have wanted if you were his daughter?

What did you make of Emma’s relationship with Ida? How did you feel about Ida’s abilities/inabilities and processing of trauma?

How do you feel about the use of military trials after wartime? In what ways do you feel the trials were used ethically or unethically in this particular case?

How did the characters change throughout the course of the book? How did your opinion of them change? Did you have more empathy for one or the other?

What did you think of each character’s connection to religion/spirituality?

In what ways were the protagonists similar? Dissimilar?

How did the book’s structure (dual-narration) impact your understanding/perception of the war and the meaning of events?

Did you feel this novel was plot-driven or character-driven?

How did setting impact the story?

Did you notice any themes or symbols?

Is there any part of this story that will stick with you?

Were there any parts that were particularly thought-provoking? Disturbing? Do you wish the author would have included more/less of certain characters/events?

What aspects of Native American or Settler life would you like to learn more about?

Were there any quotes/passages that stood out to you?

What’s your impression of the author?

If this were made into a movie – what would you like to see? What would you want changed? Who would you cast to play the main characters?

How did you feel at the end? How did you react to the ending for each character? What do you envision is next for each of them? What did you like, dislike, or wish had been different?

See "Historical Context" notes section of the website. After reviewing these facts/events/speculations, do you have any additional or different reflections about the novel? Are there parts of this history you're still wondering about? 

The sequel to Dovetails in Tall Grass is based on the Battle of the Little Bighorn. Are you familiar with this time in history? What do you imagine will be happening in each woman’s life in 1876?