Her Mother's Hope - Discussion Guide
1. Marta certainly had a difficult childhood. What factors shaped
her the most, for better or worse? How do those influences
shape the woman she becomes?
2. How does Marta’s relationship with her father shape her early
beliefs about God and His expectations? How is it different
from the way Mama sees God? What seems to make the biggest
impression on the way Marta views God? Does that change
throughout the story? If so, what causes that change?
3. At the end of chapter 4, Marta’s mother gave her a blessing
when she left home to make her way in the world. In what
ways, verbal or otherwise, did your parents give you their blessing?
If they didn’t, what do you wish they had said to you? In
what ways did you—or do you hope to someday—do the same
for your own children?
4. It has been said that women often marry a version of their
father. How is Niclas like and unlike Marta’s father? In what
ways is Niclas both passive and aggressive? Marta sometimes
seems to harbor resentment toward Niclas. Is that fair?
5. Marta has a hard time trusting Niclas because of the way her
father treated her mother. How do you think that makes Niclas
feel? In what ways—good or bad—has your family of origin
affected your marriage or close friendships?
6. Niclas asks Marta to sell the boardinghouse she bought as the
fulfillment of a lifelong dream. Is that an appropriate request?
What do you think of the way Niclas makes the decision and
communicates it to Marta? If you were Marta, what would you
have done in that situation? Have you faced a similar decision
in your marriage or family?
7. Marta sometimes makes it difficult for Niclas to be the head
of their household. Does Marta view herself as a helpmate to
Niclas? Do you think he sees her in that way? How is he able
to love Marta despite her sometimes-prickly nature?
8. Why does Marta never tell Niclas—or anyone else in her
family—that she loves them? How does Marta best show and
9. In many ways, Marta is like the woman described in Proverbs 31.
Which of the qualities described in that passage do you see in
her? Which ones is she missing?
10. After rescuing Elise from the Meyers in chapter 5, Marta tells
her friend, “I swear before God, Rosie, if I’m ever fortunate
enough to have a daughter, I’ll make sure she’s strong enough
to stand up for herself!” How do Marta’s family dynamics come
into play later in life when she has children of her own?
11. Marta loves Hildemara deeply. Yet of all her children, Hildemara
probably feels the least loved. Why is that? Is treating children
differently the same as favoring one over another? What
challenges make it difficult to raise all the kids in a family
exactly the same? How hard should parents strive to do so?
12. Have you ever felt, as Hildemara did, that others in your
family have unfairly received a greater share of love, financial
provision, or some other valuable resource? How did you
respond? What advice would you give someone in this
13. After Hildemara’s incident with her teacher Mrs. Ransom,
Hildemara tells her father that she prayed and prayed, but her
prayers didn’t change the situation. Niclas replies, “Prayers
changed you, Hildemara.” What does he mean by that? Have
you ever had a similar experience?
14. Why is Marta so averse to Hildemara’s decision to attend
nursing school? Does she ever change her mind about
Hildemara’s chosen profession?
15. For several months, Hildemara keeps Trip at arm’s length. Why
do you think she does that? What makes her finally admit her
love for him?
16. Trip, like many men of his generation, has tragic, life-altering
experiences in World War II. Have you heard stories from or
about men in your own family who were similarly affected?
Have any of your loved ones been involved in more recent
wars? How has war affected your family?
17. Tuberculosis is much rarer today than it was in Marta’s and
Hildemara’s lifetimes. Yet life-threatening and chronic illnesses
have never been more prevalent. How has your family been
impacted by serious illness? Discuss the strain illness can place
on family dynamics, regardless of the “relational health” a
family may have at the outset.
18. If you could change one thing about the way you were
parented, what would it be? And if you have children, is there
anything you wish you could change about the way you’ve
parented them? What is one step you could take in that
19. At the end of this book Marta is determined, with God’s help,
to make a fresh start with Hildemara. Do you think she will
succeed? Why or why not? How do you think Hildemara will
respond? Is there hope for this relationship?
20. If you could sit down with Marta and Hildemara, what would
you like to tell each of them? Is there someone in your family
you need to talk with about mistakes or misperceptions
from the past that are still affecting you today? If you have
unresolved issues with a loved one who has passed away, who
might you talk with to try to reach some closure for yourself?