Book group discussion questions

Here are a few questions to get your book group’s discussion started. If you come up with others, feel free to submit them!

  • The tagline for The Same Moon is, “Sometimes you have to run far, far away to find your way home.” What “home” do you think Coomber was seeking? And what did she find?
  • Coomber describes floating in the Sea of Japan as her “happy place”—a place she escapes to in her mind to get a break from stressful times. Do you have such a place? Where is it? Why is that your place?
  • Living in small-town Japan, Coomber strived to fit into her new community while maintaining her principles and individuality. One particular challenge was to figure out whether—and then how—to participate in her offices’ tea-serving culture. What do you think of her decision to help serve tea? What has been the most challenging social compromise—either at home or abroad—that you have struggled with?
  • Most of the action in this book takes place between 1994-96—before the days of cheap long-distance phone calls, ubiquitous cell phones and the constant stream of social media. How do you think this story would have been different if Coomber had had all those resources available?
  • The Same Moon involves a few romantic relationships, each of which illustrates that romance is complicated—whether between people of similar or different backgrounds. From your experience and/or observation, what do you believe is the most important thing that holds people together?
  • When Coomber left for Japan, she planned to spend just one solitary year there, figuring out her life. What do you think is the most important reason she stayed twice as long?
  • What is the primary role the koto plays in The Same Moon? How do you think Coomber’s experience would have been different without this musical instrument?
  • Sometimes people describe themselves as “color blind” or as “global citizens.” What do you think of these ideas? How much impact do you believe culture has on relationships? On our perceptions of each other?
  • One of the threads in The Same Moon involves a search for God’s presence in her life. From your perspective, does she make progress in this quest? Or is she at the same place at the end of the book as at the beginning?