Discussion Guide: Keeper of the Night

1. Why did the author title the book Keeper of the Night? What happens at night, and what does it reveal about each character that is concealed during the day?

2. Did you like the format of the book, which consists of short passages? How was reading it different from reading a book written in longer chapters? What characteristics of this particular story lent themselves to this format?

3. What are Isabel’s most significant traits? How might another type of character react to the events in the book? What are some of the forms grief takes for the members of Isabel’s family?

4. “Whenever I think of my mother, something fills up inside me, like water filling a bucket. It fills me up so much, I’m afraid my feelings will spill over for everyone to see” (p. 9).

Why do you think Isabel fears that her feelings will come to the surface and be seen by others? What does she suppose will happen? Have you ever been afraid to let your feelings surface? Did they eventually emerge?

5. Look at the lists Isabel makes over the course of the story. Aside from the obvious function that some of them have as to-do lists, why do you think she makes them? Do you do anything similar when your life confuses or overwhelms you?

6. Pick one of your favorite “chapters” in the book. How does it add a piece to the puzzle of the story? How does the author convey a lot of meaning in a few words? Think about how you might tell the story of your own life. What part of your story might you paint a portrait of in this style? Try to write it down.

7. What realization comes to Isabel toward the end of the book? What does Dr. Gurrero (Ed) help her to see? What does she learn from the love story of Auntie Bernadette and Uncle Fernando (pp. 287 to 289)?

8. How does Mrs. Cruz’s painting of Isabel’s mother help Isabel remember her mother, when photographs do not (pp. 276 to 278)? Has a photograph or another image shaped the way you remember something or someone? Can photographs lie?

9. “Roman stops by the cabana. ‘How’s Frank?’
And just that one question is like the last drop in a full bathtub that makes the water run over the rim”
(p. 250).

When Isabel’s emotions finally do come to the surface, what thoughts, accusations, and questions come out of her? Think about what she says to Roman, Ed, and her father.