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Points for Discussion:

All social systems have their pros and cons, good points and bad points, bad apples and angels. This is certainly the case with the child welfare and juvenile justice systems described in this novel.

• What aspects of these systems surprised or shocked you?
• At what points in the story did you fear the system’s effects on Kelly?
• At what points were you glad the system was there?
• At what points were you cheering for Kelly or Sam to “beat the system”?
• What opinions do you now have about the juvenile justice system?
• What are your hopes for incarcerated youth and the people who serve them?

What social systems have you been involved with, such as a hospital, spiritual or religious organization, sports team, or government entity? Share with your discussion group something about your experience — the good, the bad, the ugly, and the beautiful.

• Name some of the frustrations.
• Identify some of the triumphs.
• If there was one person, like Sam, who made the experience worthwhile or ensured that your life would never be the same, describe your interactions with that “angel”.

You can find the Points of Discussion on page 405 of the second edition of The Car Thief.