Land of Love and Drowning Discussion Questions

Instructor: Christopher Muscato

Chris has a master's degree in history and teaches at the University of Northern Colorado.

''Land of Love and Drowning'' is a work of magical realism set primarily in the U.S. Virgin Islands. These questions can help facilitate a class discussion on the novel's themes, plot, characters, and genre.

Land of Love and Drowning

Land of Love and Drowning is a 2014 novel by author Tiphanie Yanique that follows three generations of families on St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Infused with elements of magical realism, this will be a compelling read for many students. Please be aware that the book contains sexual themes, as well as those of incest, abuse, war, and loss, which may be triggers for some students. The following discussion questions can help your high school students work through the characters, plot, and themes of this novel.

Questions About Characters and Plot

  • In your own words, what would you say Land of Love and Drowning is about? Can you describe the plot in a single sentence?
  • How does this novel begin? Why do you think the author chose to start here? How does the early transition of the islands from Danish to U.S. control impact the story?
  • Who are the main characters in Land of Love and Drowning? How would you describe each of the main characters? What are their main personality traits? Where do we see these in the novel? What are the important relationships in this novel? How do relationships define the characters in this story?
  • What are the important locations and settings for this novel? When people leave St. Thomas, where do they go? Why do they come back? What is the relationship like between the various islands? How does the island become a consistent element of the story across several generations? What does St. Thomas mean to the characters in this novel? Can a place (like this island) be a character?
  • Is there a single, central conflict in this story? How does this author complicate this by weaving multiple people's stories together? What unites these stories? What connects them? What drives the conflict? How is the conflict resolved? Is it resolved?
  • What moments from each character's journey stuck out to you the most? Why? How did these moments impact the characters? How did these moments impact the story?
  • How does this novel end? What did you think of this ending?

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