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Brothers and Sisters by Bebe Moore Campbell

Set against the smoking embers of post-riot L.A., Campbell's book is a tale of two women, one black one white, who are searching for happiness and trying to bridge the cultural gap to become friends. They strive to discover what really makes us Brothers & Sisters.

Questions for Discussion

  1. The setting of Brothers and Sisters is Los Angeles after the Rodney King riots. What role does the setting play in the novel's social and economic issues? 

  2. What is the significance of the title Brothers and Sisters? How does the title play itself out in the novel?  

  3. Explain how Ruth’s relationship developed with Dennis McBride.  

  4. Give examples from the text of how African Americans and immigrants were stereotyped by members of their own groups. How did Ruth’s family treat new immigrants? Who were the “greenborns”? Was there an African American counterpart during slavery?  

  5. The abject poverty of James McBride’s family is discussed in the book. How id Ruth manage the economics of the family? What good business strategies did she use? Would they work today?  

  6. Incest is often hidden by families. What is the psychological impact of this denial on the victim? Presently, what do we know about eh coping mechanisms that victims develop?  

  7. Describe the procedure Ruth Shilsky McBride used to get her children into some of the best schools in New York. What happened to the children’s education when the family moved to Delaware? What was Ruth’s educational philosophy?

  8. How important was personal identity for James? Was race, ethnicity, or religion important to other McBride children?  

  9. Explain how Ruth demonstrated a “double-consciousness” at her high school graduation. Did one culture dominate the event?  

  10. Discuss the interfaith perspective of the memoirs, including a Jewish woman who co- founds a Black Baptist church.  

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