- In Always Orchid, Phoenix Walker must move from New York to Beijing to be with Orchid. What did he give up and gain in doing so? What are examples of compromises you’ve seen in real-life relationships?
- Although Phoenix and Orchid have known each other for a year, they must adjust to his life-changing accident together. Which parts of his adaptations and their discovery surprised you?
- In Beijing, the characters experience bias from Chinese superstitions that disability is a sign of sins from a prior life. What do you think are effective ways to shift long-held biases?
- In book one, Orchid Blooming, images of combat-wounded veterans trigger Orchid’s Post Traumatic Stress Disorder from witnessing her parents’ car accident. How has she healed by the time she and Phoenix reunite in Always Orchid? What strategies does she use to help ameliorate her PTSD?
- When Phoenix arrives in China, he reconnects with his agency friend, Kit. In what ways did Kit’s appreciation for disability inclusion grow?
- Readers meet Billy at the Great Wall. He’s drawn to Phoenix when he realizes that they’re both amputees. How did the fact that his girlfriend’s parents didn’t want her to be with someone with a disability make you feel? How did this rally Phoenix and Orchid towards inspiring more inclusivity?
- In Always Orchid, we get to know Roy, the man that Phoenix saved in the subway station. When did you feel empathy for Roy? Anger? How did his character change your perceptions of people who are temporarily unhoused?
- Roy botches his attempt at reparations. Have you seen real-life examples of good intentions gone awry? Please share.
- This novel delves into themes of forgiveness, unconditional acceptance, and self-compassion. Which moments in the story illuminated insights in these areas for you?
- Throughout the book, what are ways that each character discovers their purpose in life – Roy, Phoenix, and Orchid?
- The book’s final scene takes place at an advertising shoot for products that elevate medicinal care to luxury levels. How does using the medium of ads coupled with products for amputees help Phoenix grow and feel loved? How did the ending make you feel?
- Taking a page from favorite literary works, Always Orchid ends at an emotionally-satisfying yet real-life juncture for Phoenix and Orchid. Some readers, though, have requested books about other characters from this series. Would you purchase a novel about Caleb & Sascha or others? Message me at https://carolvandenhende.com/contact to let me know.
If your book club would like to meet with me, schedule a virtual author visit through Novel Network: https://novelnetwork.com/vendor/carol-van-den-hende/
CAROL VAN DEN HENDE is an award-winning novelist who pens stories of resilience and hope. Her novels Orchid Blooming and Goodbye, Orchid draw from her own Chinese American family’s history, and have won 30+ literary awards, including the American Fiction Award, IAN Outstanding Fiction First Novel Award, and Royal Dragonfly Awards for Disability Awareness and Cultural Diversity. Carol’s mission is unlocking optimism as a writer, speaker, global marketer, digital strategist, Board Trustee and Climate Reality Leader. One secret to her good fortune? Her humorous husband and twins, who prove that love really does conquer all.