Reading Group Guide
1. What do you see as the central issue raised by the novel?
2. How would you describe the term, "crisis of faith"? What crisis of faith did Kyle and Bethany Dolan face? How did their faith help them resolve it?
3. Infertility can bring tremendous pain to a couple. What women in Scripture were barren? How does the experience of not being able to bear children today differ from the experience of childless women in Biblical times? Do women still feel "cursed of God"?
4. Kathryn Mackel has described The Surrogate as a story of what happens when believers want something good so much that they get way out ahead of God in pursuing this blessing. In what ways do the main characters, Kyle and Bethany, get ahead of God? What good thing does the surrogate, Sable Lynde, want that influences her to become the Dolan's surrogate?
5. Discuss blessings - very good things - that Christians may desire, such as a fruitful ministry or believing children, that can drive us to go beyond God to secure these blessings. What do you think going "beyond God" might mean?
6. Sometimes God's idea of what is best for us is not the same as ours. Is there a way to tell if the things you want are what God wants for you or not?
7. The Surrogate tells the story of how one couple became parents to a baby named Hannah. But Hannah is only one of the children God brought into their lives. The Martinez children needed the Dolan's help. Sable was desperately in need of parenting, although she disguised that need. Discuss how Kyle and Bethany become second parents to the Martinez boys, and eventually to Sable. Where do they succeed, and where do they fail? What about Bethany's students? How well does she "parent" them?
8. Have you had the experience of being blinded to the good things and opportunities God has provided for you because of some frustrated desire?
9. Bethany goes from Boston to North Conway and back at least three times in the course of the story. Each time she has a solid reason for the move, but in truth, she is fleeing her pain and then her fear. Discuss the role setting plays in the story, and what the Dolan's movement between their two homes represents. Consider what Psalm 139:7-12 says about trying to outrun God. What examples are there in Scripture of God's people trying to run away from His mighty reach? What are some of the things Christians use as a refuge from or barrier to God?
10. The Dolans have a strong marriage and a strong faith. What are the strengths of the Dolan's marriage? What are their failings, especially in relation to each other?
11. Sable Lynde (a.k.a. Laurel Bergin) is not the only surrogate in this story. Who else assumes the role of surrogate?