Considering reading Green Ghost, Blue Ocean in your book club? I could make a guest appearance at your meeting, in person in the Greater Toronto Area, or by video-conferencing elsewhere. Send me a message on the Contact Jennifer page on this website.
(WITH THANKS TO BRENDA SAWATZKY-GIRLING FOR MANY OF THESE SUGGESTIONS)
- What do you think Jennifer and Nik are searching for if anything? Do you think they found it?
- Was this a laudable endeavour or a selfish pursuit?
- This sailing adventure is written in first person, by Jennifer, although there are two people on board. Do you feel like you got to know Nik? What does Jennifer think of Nik?
- What clues do we have as to the motivations driving Jennifer’s and Nik’s desire to sail the world? At what points do these motivations come together, and when do they drift apart? How does the couple reconcile the tension arising from these differences?
- Jennifer invites us into parts of her relationship with her husband. What does her story suggest about introverts and extroverts in a relationship? In what ways are the couple’s negotiations the same as and different to the more traditional lives that many of us lead? What parts of their relationship could you relate to/not relate to?
- Do you think the journey strengthened or weakened their marriage? How would such an experience impact your marriage?
- The story reflects on living outside the norm. How much of what we do is a response to societal/familial expectations? How does the fulfillment (or lack of fulfillment) of these expectations: determine how we are judged by others?/ affect how we see ourselves?/ differ for men and women?/ affect our own inner happiness?
- Jennifer refers to losing her sense of a lucky life early in the book (page 29). By the end of the story (page 283) she expresses thankfulness. What does “a lucky life” mean to you?
- Jennifer refers to her pregnancy loss and her childlessness throughout the story. What did she learn on the journey? Did the journey bring her peace of mind? In what ways does the theme of motherhood come through in Jennifer’s reflections and experiences?
- Jennifer describes the toll their first ocean crossing took on an important friendship. About their crewman and mentor, she writes, “We haven’t heard from him since.” (p. 70). What messages might this story have for friendship?
- Jennifer implies that even with no fixed address, the notions of belonging and community matter. She writes, “In the Caribbean, there was no defined fleet. We felt a bit lost, not because we were alone, but because we were alone in the crowd.” (p. 277). In what ways did Jennifer and Nik connect with like-minded people along the way?
- How are travellers changed by their experiences? How do travellers change the places they visit? What examples are found in the book?
- Jennifer conveys many aspects of becoming an experienced offshore sailor, a shellback. Early on in their voyage, Chris near San Francisco tells them: “You don’t leave someone standing in their tender clinging to the toe rail alongside your boat. ‘You invite them in out of the sun,’ he told us. ‘You offer them a drink.’” (p. 34). What other ah ha moments does Jennifer share as she and Nik learn the customs and norms of the cruising world?
- Has the story altered your view of “sailing off into the sunset”? Would you want to go on such a journey? If yes, why? If no, why not? If you could cherry pick parts of the experience, which ones would you choose? Which ones would you avoid?
- What elements in this story inspire you to think about taking a less traditional path in the future, or regret that you did not do so in the past?
- Of the many continents and countries Jennifer and Nik visited, did you take note of any places you would like to visit, or steer clear of? Why or why not? What does the couple learn about people around the world?
- What elements of Jennifer’s writing style helped to create images in your mind as you were reading this story? Did some images come through more strongly than others?
- What did you like or dislike about Green Ghost, Blue Ocean? Did you have expectations of the book? If so, did it live up to them?
- Jennifer says on the last page, “I was still me… All the miles hadn’t changed who I was.” Do you think this statement is true? Why/why not? Do you think people change? Did Jennifer change? If so, how?
- If you had the opportunity to meet Jennifer, what would you ask her? What might you be too shy to ask? What else (e.g., facts, details, reflections, photos, maps) do you wish Jennifer had included in her story?