Thursday, August 18, 2011

Questions on What Looks Like Crazy on an Ordinary Day

Stimulate Your Mind Book Club Meeting
September 8, 2011

Questions on What Looks Like Crazy on an Ordinary Day

1. Both Ava and Joyce are at crisis points in their lives. How does each cope with her heartaches? What works...and what doesn't? Compare the fighting spirit of both women at the beginning of the book and how it evolves. How does the fighting spirit effect the reader’s feelings upon completing the book?

2. Ava and Joyce aren't the only women facing tough challenges in this novel. Joyce says of the girls in the Sewing Circus, "These girls haven't got a chance. There aren't jobs and there aren't going to be any. They're stuck up here in the middle of the damn woods, watching talk shows, smoking crack, collecting welfare, and having babies. What kind of life is that?" (p. 39) Ava's answer is "City life." Do you agree that the same problems confront urban and rural young women? What do you think are the greatest ones? Whose responsibility is it to help young people overcome them?

3. In the chapter called "August," Joyce makes up a list of "Ten Things Every Free Woman Should Know." First define "free woman" -- then make up your own list.

4. The church in this novel shows both its sides: the good it can do; the harm it can do. How do you feel about the church's handling of the Reverend's sexual abuse? What do you feel should be the response of a church organization-whether a black church or the Roman Catholic Church-to this problem?

5. At the center of this novel, however, is the tragedy of HIV. Discuss the community's reaction to Ava. Then discuss her response to a new relationship. How would you interpret her dream in Chapter 18...and the very last line of the book?

6. What is the symbolism of the word “crazy” in the book? What does the title What Looks Like Crazy on an Ordinary Day mean to you?

7. What hints of hope does Pearl Cleage offer?


  1. Ten Things I Believe Every Free Woman Should Know…..

    1.When it’s okay to say, “Hell No”.
    2.The real fairytale is whatever you desire (and create) it to be
    3.How to box it, seal it, and send it away…forever
    4.Just a few more things about a car other than where the gas goes
    5.All the branches of the US government…and its responsibilities
    6.How to swim…or at the very least, how to dog paddle and float
    7.How to listen…
    8.How to take accountability of yourself
    9.It’s not just you….juggling life is hard for everyone
    10.Tomorrow will come…have more than a dollar in your pocket when it does

    Definition of a “free woman”: She is intellectually versed with book and street smarts, clever, courageous, and confident. A protector of those she allows in her personal space. She is gifted with a slick tongue and has the extraordinary ability to keep moving forward even when her life is full of chaos and confusion.

  2. Ten Things I Believe Every Free Woman Should Know...,,

    1. How to love herself FIRST
    2. How to let go and let God be her guide
    3. How to say "no" and not feel guilty about it
    4. How to be independent, but not have so much pride that she can't ask for help
    5. Never apologize for the way you feel
    6. The difference between love and sex
    7. Beauty starts on the inside
    8. How to budget her money and save a little for herself
    9. Friends are a necessity; when you find a real one, cherish it
    10. Spend YOUR time making YOU happy; once it's gone, you can't get time back

    Definition of a "free woman": A woman who can leave the past behind, always find joy in the present, and looks forward to the future with open arms, an open heart, an open mind, and a soul that sings for the Man above.