Discussion #1: True Colors

Ready or not, here it comes – Discussion #1 of book 31 True Colors by Kristin Hannah. Not ready? Be warned! Stop back again later so as not to encounter any spoilers in reading the following discussion questions:

  • True Colors starts out with the three preteen sisters, Pea (Winona), Bean (Vivi Ann) & Sprout (Aurora) at the time just after their mother’s death. How did their personalities foreshadow what was to come later in the book?
  • What role did the sisters’ father play in the way each of the women developed emotionally throughout the first half of the novel? Is he successful in “taking care of the garden” as their mother requested?
  • Do you think Winona should have taken Aurora’s advice early on in Vivi Ann and Luke’s romance? How might the story have changed if she had?
  • Why did Winona, the supposed ‘smartest’ of the sisters, choose to hire Dallas as the farm hand without checking into his background first? What initially attracted her to hire him? In what way was Vivi Ann so quickly drawn to Tattoo Boy at Outlaw Tavern?
  • Do you find the sisters to be codependent on one another as a result of their mother’s death? In what ways do they support each other? How did the subsequent rift between the sisters negatively impact their lives?
  • Is Dallas bluffing by giving Vivi Ann the impression that he was the guilty party in Cat’s death? Why or why not? Do you think Vivi’s extreme naiveté flawed her decision-making abilities? Is she too hopeful?
  • What are your thoughts on Kristin Hannah’s writing style? Have you ever read any of her other novels? Are you interested in reading more by this author?

As always, discussion is not limited to these questions. Got any others? We’ll take ’em!

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15 Responses to Discussion #1: True Colors

  1. * True Colors starts out with the three preteen sisters, Pea (Winona), Bean (Vivi Ann) & Sprout (Aurora) at the time just after their mother’s death. How did their personalities foreshadow what was to come later in the book?
    Winona was the nurturing big sister, Aurora the peacemaking middle child, and Vivi Ann the bold & fearless baby sister. When their father gave in and allowed Vivi Ann to keep Clem, the late mother’s horse, Winona’s bitter jealousy toward Vivi Ann came out in full force. Each of the three seemed anxious to win their father’s approval, and Vivi had the most pull when it came to his heartstrings. Aurora noticed the jealousy in Winona’s eyes and was left as the mediator to keep peace in the family.

    * What role did the sisters’ father play in the way each of the women developed emotionally throughout the first half of the novel? Is he successful in “taking care of the garden” as their mother requested?
    The sisters seem to be in constant battle for their father’s attention and approval. Although, sometimes when approval wasn’t in sight, they sought after negative attention – such as when Winona wasn’t meeting his expectations, she then impulsively hired an Indian whom she knew he’d be against having around. Vivi Ann also defies her father by marrying Dallas when her father wanted her to marry Luke. So far in this novel, the father seems to barely keep his head above water in taking care of the family. But then again, the women are grown and need to find their own independence and learn from life’s mistakes in the process. I think he’s doing the best that can be expected of a widower left with so many responsibilities in raising a family alone.

    * Do you think Winona should have taken Aurora’s advice early on in Vivi Ann and Luke’s romance? How might the story have changed if she had?
    Absolutely! When she didn’t take Aurora’s advice, I found my inner voice screaming “No! You’re making a huge mistake, Winona! Tell the truth!” (A whole lot of good that did, right?) Although, Luke would’ve continued loving Vivi even if Winona had been forthright, Vivi still would’ve fallen for Dallas, and Winona’s unrequited love for Luke would’ve left her brokenhearted. Yet on a positive note, I do think Winona and Vivi’s relationship as sisters would not have been as strained if she’d been honest from the start.

    * Why did Winona, the supposed ‘smartest’ of the sisters, choose to hire Dallas as the farm hand without checking into his background first? What initially attracted her to hire him? In what way was Vivi Ann so quickly drawn to ‘Tattoo Boy’ at Outlaw Tavern?
    Winona was pressured by her father to find someone to replace the former farm hand quickly, and she was angry that her father was going along with Vivi’s money-making plan. She felt he was putting the family farm at risk and resented the decision. So despite the fact that she thought her father would not like Dallas because he was Indian, she also thought Dallas was capable of doing the job and wasn’t going to discriminate against him for her father’s sake. As for Vivi Ann’s attraction to Dallas, he was the perfect rough-around-the-edges-type that she needed to satiate her appetite for the wild & dangerous.

    * Do you find the sisters to be codependent on one another as a result of their mother’s death? In what ways do they support each other? How did the subsequent rift between the sisters negatively impact their lives?
    Yes, they can’t seem to exist without one another, especially since losing their mother. Winona supports her younger sisters by being the smart, successful one. Aurora melds the family by keeping everyone at peace. Vivi Ann provides the beauty, sass and excitement to that which might seem boring in everyday small-town family life. And when the sisterhood relationship fell apart, each of them seemed to deteriorate physically, mentally and emotionally. I’m hopeful they will all reconnect in Part Two.

    * Is Dallas bluffing by giving Vivi Ann the impression that he was the guilty party in Cat’s death? Why or why not? Do you think Vivi’s extreme naiveté flawed her decision-making abilities? Is she too hopeful?
    I truly believe Dallas had something to do with the crime against Cat but that he wasn’t the sole perpetrator. He’s trying to protect Vivi just as he was in the beginning of their relationship. Dallas told her to go with ‘Khaki Ken’ on the same day she convinced him to marry her, almost as if he never considered himself worthy of her love. He still doesn’t even though they have a son together. For some reason, I think Vivi is right to have faith in Dallas and that her so-called naiveté is not working against her ability to think things through. I want to be optimistic like her and see a happy ending for Vivi and Dallas.

    * What are your thoughts on Kristin Hannah’s writing style? Have you ever read any of her other novels? Are you interested in reading more by this author?
    Amazing! I haven’t read any other novels by Kristin Hannah, but I’d be willing to read more. Even though her tone is a little more serious than I would normally choose, it’s a refreshing step in a new direction.

  2. maksbestfriend says:

    * True Colors starts out with the three preteen sisters, Pea (Winona), Bean (Vivi Ann) & Sprout (Aurora) at the time just after their mother’s death. How did their personalities foreshadow what was to come later in the book?

    I think with their mother dying at such a young age, the sisters learned that they had to depend on each other. I think that the one sister realized that the night that her mother was dying and asked for the girls and her father didn’t go and get them let her know that on some deep, nurturing level, they had to be there for each other, because emotionally he would not be.

    * What role did the sisters’ father play in the way each of the women developed emotionally throughout the first half of the novel? Is he successful in “taking care of the garden” as their mother requested?

    No he is not successful as the mother requested. He did not encourage the girls as they grew into women. He indulged Vivi Ann, because it appeared for a time that she was the one that would do no wrong and not leave home. Aurora married and Winona got her lawyers degree. I think that each girl developed their own sense of self preservation. Winona found hers in food and college and becoming book smart, but not so much in street smart or knowing when to say something and knowing when not too. Aurora married and completely started her own family and did not mold it after what she lived with her father. Look at the Christmas scenes at her home. Seems like something that her mother would have done. And Vivi Ann seemed to know all the ways to attract the wrong kind of attention, and how to manipulate men and her father so that things turned out the way that she wanted them to and still came out looking perfect.

    * Do you think Winona should have taken Aurora’s advice early on in Vivi Ann and Luke’s romance? How might the story have changed if she had?

    I think that she should have told Luke, but given Luke’s reaction, I think that it would have ended just as badly. He is a stubborn male. Until he was able to get beyond his own hurt, he would never be able to have the type of relationship with Winona that she had imagined.

    * Why did Winona, the supposed ’smartest’ of the sisters, choose to hire Dallas as the farm hand without checking into his background first? What initially attracted her to hire him? In what way was Vivi Ann so quickly drawn to Tattoo Boy at Outlaw Tavern?

    Because he appeared to know what he was doing and she needed to have the job done. She knew that her father would be angry, but at the end of the day there was work to be done. It appears to be a small town and he seemed to be knowledgeable and nothing gave off warning bells, and did she criminally background check her other ranch hands? I think that Vivi Ann was attracted to him because he was not the man that fell at her feet and did was honest with her. There had to be a spark there somewhere, because she definitely felt something for him on a heart level that she had not felt for any of the other men that she had been involved with and he was the first man that she had ever told she loved.

    * Do you find the sisters to be codependent on one another as a result of their mother’s death? In what ways do they support each other? How did the subsequent rift between the sisters negatively impact their lives?

    Partly because of the mothers death, and partly because they are sisters. Aurora is constantly trying to be the peacemaker between Vivi Ann and Winona. I think the fact that Vivi Ann could not/would not forgive Winona and Winona would not help to defend Dallas keeps driving a wedge in the relationship.

    * Is Dallas bluffing by giving Vivi Ann the impression that he was the guilty party in Cat’s death? Why or why not? Do you think Vivi’s extreme naiveté flawed her decision-making abilities? Is she too hopeful?

    Not bluffing, exactly. I think that Dallas has been a part of the legal system since he was a child. He knows how this works. And he knows what has happened to him in his past and how these things have a way of coming back to bite him in the butt in court. He was trying to prepare her. He did tell her that he got rid of the gun. He did not tell her after they brought Noah home that he gave the gun to Cat. I think that Vivi Ann thinks that because she had always had a protected life that this was an open and shut case because she knew that he was home sick, and who wouldn’t believe her. But this is a small town and small town politics is a whole thing to have to deal with.

    * What are your thoughts on Kristin Hannah’s writing style? Have you ever read any of her other novels? Are you interested in reading more by this author?

    I love the very human face she puts on her characters, you see what years of dealing with something this traumatic does to a person. The pain is almost palpable when you read what Vivi Ann is going through as each year passes. That is a hard thing to capture and I think that she does it very well. I am not reading, I am listening. But I am liking the style. I have not read anything by Kristin Hannah before, but if this book keeps up this method of writing all the rest of the way, I would be inclined to want to read another!

  3. maksbestfriend says:

    I am in Chapter 24 right now, where are you?

  4. Almost done w/ch 22… aawww the tree find was so precious. Can’t wait to read the conversation w/VA & Noah after that!

  5. maksbestfriend says:

    I am Chapter 28. Really good book!

  6. @maksbestfriend – Haven’t been able to read all day but will catch up to you soon, I hope. Glad to know you like!

  7. Just finishing ch 23… not saying a word. 🙂

  8. maksbestfriend says:

    Is it just you and me? I am in Chapter 28 but only have an hour of listening left. So I am going to listen more tonight when I go to bed.

  9. @maksbestfriend – just finishing ch 24… seeing a light on down at the end of the tunnel! Why do I have a feeling you’re already done? (BTW: yes, just the two of us reading as far as I can tell.)

  10. maksbestfriend says:

    I have 11 minutes left to listen. Last night, I was so tired, that I didn’t want to fall asleep before I finished the book so I stopped. I will be finished tonight. 😉

  11. Ok – no spoilers! I hope to finish soon but am in the middle of a client project. Will keep you posted on my status, then we can chat about it all. Go Dallas, Noah & Vivi Ann!

  12. maksbestfriend says:

    No worries! I finished it last night! Amazing!

  13. Just finishing ch 28 – nooooo! So not what I wanted to happen. *sigh* Will finish soon, I promise.

  14. Whew! Finally finished after a hugely LONG day of IT consulting and caring for a sick-kid-home-from-school-Day-#3. What a perfect way to end a day/week! Final discussion to be posted as soon as I get my bearings. AMAZING is absolutely right, @maksbestfriend!

  15. maksbestfriend says:

    I am so glad that you liked it!

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