Reading Group Guide Discussion Questions
- What is the primary legal, philosophical, and theological debate being waged in this book? What is the relevance of this debate to the lives we lead here on earth?
- What is the significance of Brek’s profession as a lawyer, and her best friend Karen Busfield’s profession as a priest, to this debate?
- Brek Cuttler becomes a lawyer of souls at the Final Judgment. Do you believe there is a Final Judgment after death? If so, does the book challenge or reflect your views of how it might unfold?
- By becoming a lawyer of souls, Brek is able to experience the inner thoughts, feelings, and memories of other people. What does she learn from this experience?
- Luas, Brek’s legal mentor in the afterlife, has been presenting the same soul at the Final Judgment for two thousand years. Why? What does this signify?
- Brek devotes her life to the pursuit of justice. How does she benefit from leading such a life? How does it benefit others? What does it cost her? What does it cost others?
- Mahatma Gandhi, a lawyer himself, once said: “The true function of a lawyer [is] to unite parties riven asunder.” Is this how Brek views her role as a lawyer? Is this how lawyers function in our society today?
- How is the word justice defined throughout the book? Does the definition change? Does justice have more than one meaning?
- How do you define justice? How does society define it?
- What does justice mean when our national leaders say we are going to “bring the terrorists to justice”? What does it mean when, after a criminal has been executed, our leaders proclaim, “Justice has been served”?
- Is justice in conflict with forgiveness? Can the two be reconciled?
- How are Ott Bowles and Brek Cuttler alike? How are they different?
- Does Ott Bowles ever repent of his notorious sins? Is his repentance necessary?
- Ott Bowles and Samar Mansour debate the Holocaust and the Israeli–Palestinian conflict. Do you agree with any of the views expressed in this debate? How does the debate symbolize the conflict waged throughout the book between justice and forgiveness?
- Whom do the following characters represent: Haissem, Elymas, Luas? Explain.
- Nana Bellini, Brek’s great-grandmother, says that Brek can help Luas finally leave Shemaya. How does Brek help him?
- At the end of the book, who is revealed as the ultimate Judge at the Final Judgment? Do you agree? Why or why not?
- The Trial of Fallen Angels has been called a modern parable and an allegory. What is the message of the parable? What is the meaning of the allegory?
- Has the novel altered your beliefs or understanding of the world in any way? How?