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March 2005
One Vacant Chair
by Joe Coomer

Reader’s Guide

  1. Many colorful, even bizarre characters are depicted in One Vacant Chair. What role does physical description play in your general idea of the main characters? Does the lack of description of Sarah affect your relationship to her as a reader? What does it say about women and body image?

  2. Coomer takes on voices in the novel that are clearly not his own. First, the story is narrated from a woman’s perspective. Coomer also explores the idea of blindness and the life of a blind, African-American man. How well does Coomer do in tackling these other points of view?

  3. Issues of honesty and communication are addressed through the failing relationship of Sarah and Sam, and also within Sarah herself. How effectively do Sarah and Sam usually communicate? How does her attitude change after the trip? Does she become better at being honest with others after she is more honest with herself?

  4. How, if at all, does your attitude toward Aunt Edna change after she reveals her secrets? Is the family’s reaction surprising?

  5. How satisfied are you with where Sarah ends up? Has she changed over the course of the novel? Are the changes positive?

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