Isobel Reinhardt is a hot mess. The daughter of a wire-walker turned federal fugitive and a high-end sex worker who likes to call herself a feminist, Isobel has failed decisively at everything she’s put her hand to. So she comes to Mendocino County to grow pot for a woman who knows all her family secrets.
When she narrowly escapes arrest while delivering pot for Alizarin, Isobel does a quick risk assessment and decides it’s time to get a legitimate job. Without a marketable skill set or a well-developed resume, she jumps at the opportunity to be one of two live-in caregivers for a dying German woman.
As death and madness converge in a lonely country house at the end of a long dirt road, Isobel realizes the role of ferocity and beauty in her life.
|A Schedule of Drugs in the Valley of Death Reading Guide|
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1. Do you trust Isobel Reinhardt as a narrator? Why or why not? Are there particular points where you think her presentation of a situation might be inaccurate or self-serving?
2. What do you think about Isobel’s mother, Caitlin? Is she purely a performer, or do you see flashes of sincerity in her? Do you find her sympathetic or exasperating, or both?
3. Do you think Alizarin is an honest person? What do you think about her decision to grow pot so she can be an artist and an activist? Why do you think what you do about that?
4. Do you see any similarities between Isobel’s and Reina’s lives? Reina’s friendship with Danica and Isobel’s relationship with Alizarin?
5. What do you think changed Reina’s attitude about her daughter’s decision to have the baby? Do you think Reina’s boyfriend Raymond had anything to do with it?
6. What does Akana, the white wolf, symbolize?
7. Do you think Fiona Jones is a powerful person, and, if so, where does her power come from?
8. Do you suspect that Isobel, knowingly or not, allowed Fiona to kill Mariana Blanchefleur by administering too much morphine? What do you think about the circumstances of Mariana’s death?
9. This book addresses several controversial topics, including cannabis cultivation, in-home hospice death, and sex work. Which of these subjects is most troubling to you, and which of the characters is most compromised? Why?
10. What do you think about Isobel’s attitude towards her parents at the end of this book?