Should Have Played Poker Book Group Discussion Questions

Should Have Played Poker: a Carrie Martin and the Mah Jongg Players Mystery

By Debra H. Goldstein

Book Group Discussion Questions


1.      Discuss the characters of Carrie Martin and her mother, Charlotte. Do they fit your definitions of a babyboomer and a millennial? In Chapter One, how does that impact their decisions and the paths they followed in their lives?

2.      Discuss how being abandoned can impact a child and the kind of adult that child grows into. What are your personal reactions to Carrie’s father, Brian McPhillip, and Carolyn Holt and how does Carrie’s background color her reactions to these characters?

3.      The core Mah jongg players are a group of women who have grown up together. They know each other’s strengths and weaknesses, get on each other’s nerves and bring out the best and the worse in each other, but they demonstrate a sense of fierce loyalty to each other. Discuss the players – their personal stories – their interaction and compare these things to groups you have been part of: book groups, Mah jongg groups, card games, etc. Do these groups become a type of family in the book or in real life? What breaks or bends the bonds of groups like these?

4.      At different points in the book, Carrie finds out that things at work and in her private life aren’t as they seem. Is that realistic? How does one deal with finding out that the beliefs one once held true don’t truly exist?

5.      A subplot involves an environmental issue. What is corporate responsibility in situations like those described? What is the difference between a duty to shareholders versus the question of the public good – is it one and the same?

6.      Should Have Played Poker includes a Shabbat dinner scene. What does that tell you about the characters and does Judaism become its own theme in the book?

7.      Carrie’s comic foil and sleuthing helpers are the Mah jongg game players. Does Mah jongg provide a framework for addressing issues?

8.      Mah jongg has become a popular game. Why? Would it have been as important in the book if the Sunshine ladies had been poker or canasta players?

9.      Despite the social issue subplots, did the book accomplish what it sought to do – give you a fun read? Let me know at or think about leaving an Amazon or Goodreads review.

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