After Visiting Friends by Michael Hainey Discussion Questions

Instructor: Shanna Fox

Shanna has been an educator for 20 years and earned her Master of Education degree in 2017. She enjoys using her experience to provide engaging resources for other teachers.

In the memoir 'After Visiting Friends', Michael Hainey doggedly investigates a family mystery that has haunted him since childhood. Use these discussion questions to help your high school-age students explore family, journalism, and secrets.

After Visiting Friends: A Son's Story by Michael Hainey

Michael Hainey's memoir, After Visiting Friends: A Son's Story, takes readers on a journey through complex family dynamics, journalistic practices, and secrets uncovered. Use these discussion questions with your high school-age students to help them discover more about these important themes. You may want to use the questions in a one-on-one conversation with a single student or provide a list of questions to student partners or teams. Additionally, asking students to respond to a few questions in written form can serve as an excellent summative assessment.

*Note: Although there is not a spoiler regarding the big secret reveal at the end, these questions are designed to be used after students have read the memoir.

Family Connections

  • Describe Hainey's relationship with his mother and brother. How does it change throughout his life? Why is it difficult at times? What challenges do they face in their interactions? How does he view them during childhood? Adulthood? After he discovers the truth?
  • Michael Hainey's brother Dick becomes a well-known journalist. Do you think his father would have found such success had he lived beyond middle age? Why or why not? Do you think his career in journalism brings Dick closer to his father in a way Michael doesn't experience? Do you think that following in a deceased parent's footsteps professionally honors their memory or deepens one's connection to them? If so, how? If not, why not?
  • How did Michael's mother do at single parenting? Do you think she regrets any of her decisions? Use evidence from the text to support your answers. Do you think that all parents have some regrets or worries about their parenting? Why or why not? What makes a good parent? Can a single parent household be just as healthy and nurturing as a two-parent household or is something lacking? Explain your reasoning fully.

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