The Destiny of Sunshine Ranch-Book Study Questions for Homeschooling, Youth Groups, and Book Clubs

*Note to home-school parents, youth leaders and teachers: You can pick and choose the questions depending on the purpose of your instruction and the age group of your students/readers.

Character development:

Characters-specific: Determine which characters you wish to discuss, either from the list given or others- Benedict, Micah, Isabella, Sebastian, Tommy, Eva, Faden, Roy, David, Martha, Mr. Jones.

How did adversity affect each character?

How was past or current adversity resolved as the character developed?

Why did Benedict have such a difficult time letting go of his past?

Why did Micah have such a strong faith?

Why was Isabella really called “mama Bella”?

Why did Sebastian resent his father?

What was Tommy most afraid of?

Why was Eva so afraid to sing?

How well do you think Faden handled his feelings for Tommy?

What do you think David’s biggest challenge was?

What was Martha’s biggest fear?

How important was Mr. Jones’ character and why?

How did Roy demonstrate that an adverse past can create a positive future?

Which character was your favorite and why?

Which character do you feel was the strongest emotionally and why?

Characters-general:

Were you able to relate to any of the characters portrayed and in what way?

Were the characters believable?

Was there any experience in the novel that you feel you can apply to your own life experience?

Do you find this novel valuable? Explain your response.

Which character made the biggest transition, in your opinion?

Which character made the smallest transition, in your opinion?

Spirituality:

In your opinion, how well does the author portray the presence of God in the everyday lives of the characters?

Is the author successful in presenting faith in a relevant and relatable way?

Give an example of each of the following Christian values and explain where they were best presented:
forgiveness, strong faith, honesty, loyalty, perseverance, purity, charity, compassion, tolerance

Book Structure:

Discuss some of the narrative devices that the author uses? E.g. Flashbacks, foreshadowing, third person narration, plot twists, dialogue, and imagery. Do they work?

Do these narrative devices help move the story along or are they just distracting to the story?

Style:

What can you say about the author’s writing style?

Discuss the narrative style.

What are some of the noticeable themes in the book? How did the author develop these themes? Were these methods effective?

The Author:

How well did the author take you into the story?

Was the use of description effective?

Could you envision each character?

Could you envision the setting?

Did you find this novel enjoyable?

Would you recommend it to a friend? Explain your response.

Does this book prompt you to want to read more from this author?

Quotes:

Which character quote did you find most effective?

Which character quote do you feel is the defining message in the novel?

.PDF VERSION of Book Study for “The Destiny of Sunshine Ranch”

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Do You Carry the Burdens of Your Past Like Benedict?

The sun was still hot, wearing him down. But the breeze was intoxicating and he used it to pull him onward like a soldier crossing the desert. While he couldn’t remember a time when he was free of worry, he had never experienced this level of anxiety and it scared him. He stopped and gazed up at the blue sky, begging for relief. (The Destiny of Sunshine Ranch)

Have you ever felt an anxiety this strong? Poor Benedict. He’s the main character in my novel, The Destiny of Sunshine Ranch. From such a young age, Benedict carried the burdens of his past. He constantly looked back and couldn’t bring himself to to be positive about his future. It’s the life of the average foster child. Moved from one home to another, without any sense of stability. Until eventually, a home is just a unattainable dream.

This is the essence of the book. How do we deal with past adversity? All the Credence foster children have experienced some form of past adversity. But it’s how they deal with it that makes the difference.

Philippians 4:13 is the crux of this novel. “I can do all things,” Paul writes, “through Christ who strengthens me.” And that’s the foundation of our faith and the faith that the Credence family members must adhere to in order to cope with and overcome their adversity. With Jesus we can do anything, regardless of the circumstances that we are dealing with at the time.

Oftentimes, adversity occurs when we are children, but we take it with us into adulthood. For Benedict, it becomes consuming until the ache is just unbearable. I don’t want to ruin the story for you, but I will definitely like to come back to this subject.

Well, my story is told, and you can find out what happens to Benedict and his foster siblings. After reading the book, come back and tell me why you think Benedict struggled with his past.

Do you have a past adversity that’s been difficult to overcome? Has your faith helped you move on?

Image: Maggie Smith / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The Koala Bear Writer Review: “Gaouette Has a Gift For Characters”

“The Destiny of Sunshine Ranch reminded me of The Lion Cubs (another novel about foster children) and Cheaper by the Dozen (an autobiography of a large family that I enjoyed as a kid). I enjoyed getting to know each of the children on the ranch, and Gaouette has such a gift for characters that it wasn’t hard to keep Sebastian, Tommy, Eva, Micah, Benedict, Isabella and the younger children straight.”

Read more of this review and others at The Koala Bear Writer

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Catholic Review of Books Finds “The Destiny of Sunshine Ranch” Interesting and Edifying For Young Readers!

Catholic Review of Books

The Destiny of Sunshine Ranch is featured on Catholicreviewof books.com. If you’ve read the book or like my work, please leave a comment and share it with others.

It’s not an easy thing for an author to share her views about the extraordinary gift that Catholic family life is, or, at least, is meant to be. The number one danger for such art is making the good seem uninteresting, to fasten on to superlatives, to turn drama in paean or very poor pastoral. Too many Catholic writers have been able to do little more than this. It seems like there is this kind of thing, or there is Flannery O’Connor. It’s too bad. I am initiating myself into O’Connor and finding myself rather enjoying her darkness, but I can well imagine that she is not for everyone, particularly not for young readers. So what about their needs?

Sunshine Ranch starts off strong. A young man, Benedict, in foster care gets in trouble at school, only to have his foster mother get into trouble soon after. He and the little girl he lives with have to be moved. He ends us at the titular ranch, and the whole thing suddenly starts to feel a bit campy, almost like a Provident Films movie. Perhaps the fault is mine, since I was city-reared and a ‘ranch’ has all the feel to me of sappy Americana. That feeling doesn’t last too long, though, and Gaouette soon finds her stride and fall into a more natural rhythm.

She is a good writer. In her desire to set a scene she sometimes says too much, nevertheless, she generally has a knack for choosing the right word. The characters all seem to have depth and authenticity and they manage to avoid devolving, on the one hand, into caricature, or, on the other, into meanness. Read more of this review and others at Catholic Review of Books

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The Destiny of Sunshine Ranch: Chapter 1

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My Christmas Gift to You!

christmas special

Hi friends! I have a special gift for you this Christmas.

Buy a signed copy of The Destiny of Sunshine Ranch, and I’ll include a CD with the beautiful Christmas song, “Lullaby” by Grace Arriving,

Lullaby cd
…plus a cute crocheted snowflake bookmark.

snowflake bookmark

If you haven’t heard “Lullaby,” here’s “The Message” from gracearriving.com:

The song Lullaby contrasts the fragile form of a newborn babe embraced in his mother’s arms to that of the omnipotent King of kings- who will soon reveal love’s redemption plan to save all mankind.

Beginning with Mary’s sweet love song to Jesus and Joseph’s earnest exaltation the story of the epic event of Christ’s arrival is weaved with the voices of those touched by his birth; wise men, angels, and all of creation proclaim with gladness the arrival of Emmanuel, God with us.

You’re going to love this song. Check it out here:

The CD includes the song and its instrumental version.

I will also enter you in a raffle for a copy of my upcoming book, Freeing Tanner Rose!

This special is only available through this website, and up until Christmas.

Interested? Contact me directly. Just visit book business, fill in your contact information and check off Signed Copy. I’ll get back to you with the details.

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The Destiny of Sunshine Ranch: Chapter 1

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The Destiny of Sunshine Ranch-Book Study Questions for Youth Groups, Schools, and Book Clubs

Book Review: The Destiny of Sunshine Ranch -“I laughed, and I cried…very well written”

The Destiny of Sunshine Ranch is the story of ten children, ignored, abused, handed off to others to raise, and lost from their respective parents. They all end up placed in a foster home called Sunshine Ranch, owned by a Catholic couple, Martha and David Credence.  Mr. Jones, lovingly called “Bones,” helps out the family and the farm.

The author describes each character with such love and truth that the reader comes to know them and love each of them. Benedict is the first of the children introduced, and the story follows his troubles from one home to another, and how he is able to deal with the pain of being rejected by his mother. Benedict doesn’t trust and he doesn’t believe in things getting better. He shows feelings of abandonment:

And on the wall above his head, hung a picture of the Virgin Mary cradling her baby Jesus. Benedict sat up and turned to get a better look at that picture. He wondered if his own mother, whoever she was, ever held him the same way. Yeah, right, he thought. A mother who held her baby that way would never let go.

Read more of the review here

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The Destiny of Sunshine Ranch: Chapter 1

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Why “The Destiny of Sunshine Ranch” is a Great Christmas Story and Gift!

christmas scene-freeze dot com

I had initially intended The Destiny of Sunshine Ranch to be published at the end of last year, right before Christmas. Why? Because of the many themes relating to the season, such as miracles, forgiveness and amazing acts of kindness.

Unfortunately, the reality of the business determined the actual publishing date, but I still submit that this novel makes for a great Christmas story.

It also makes for a great Christmas gift. Although this novel was written for tweens, teens and young adults, I’m finding that adults of all ages are also loving this story. So if you’re looking for an inspiring gift for someone, consider The Destiny if Sunshine Ranch.

Don’t forget that up until Christmas day, you can purchase a signed copy of The Destiny of Sunshine Ranch for a special low price of $5.99 plus shipping. But you have to contact me directly here. Please take into account shipping time-frames during the Christmas season. 

I pray that you enjoy this novel and that it does inspire and strengthen and instill hope. Following is an excerpt.

God bless you all.

Excerpt:

At the end of the service, before Fr. Thaddeus said the final blessing and prayer, he took his place behind the pulpit, adjusted his festive white chasuble, and beamed over his congregation.

“Before we conclude this Christmas mass and go off to celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, I must make a confession,” he began to say. “I have never been surprised at the workings of our Lord.” He looked around the room. “He is an awesome God. He is a good God.” He nodded and paused. “He is an all-powerful God.” Another pause. “Why should I be surprised by any miracle that takes place? Including the one that we’ve all been pondering today. And it happened during Christmas…of all times.” He raised his eyebrows.

“There is no limit to God’s greatness and I know this, and yet I am in awe of it, every day. I see it in the eyes of every infant. The way a child is formed in a mother’s womb from a tiny egg into a living and breathing baby. I see it in nature’s way of sustaining itself. In the way that there’s no limit to love. I see it every day. And I see it today in the pure kindness of a mysterious person. A person who wishes to give, but asks for nothing back. Not even recognition. Not even a ‘thank you.’ A selfless, selfless act, and again I am in awe of it all.” He bowed his head. “Let us pray…God, we thank you for sending us an angel who has given the most generous gift. An angel who is so obviously full of love for the Credence family. An angel who sees how much this family has done for children in need of a loving home. We thank you, Lord for the Credence family, and this blessing that allows David and Martha to continue on in their endeavor to give children hope. And God we thank you again for your miracle, your angel, who has taken the spirit of this town and lifted it so high.”

There was a sudden pause and then Fr. Thaddeus sniffed, and then sighed. The crowd waited while the priest tried to regain his composure. “You have shown us yet again, Lord that everything is possible, and you have shown us on this Christmas day, the day of your son’s birth, that there is still so much good in this world. Thank you, Lord. We praise you endlessly in Jesus’ name. Amen.”

He wiped each eye quickly before looking up and smiling. “Oh, it is a great day today. A great day, yes, for Jesus Christ was born this day and Sunshine Ranch has been saved. Bow your heads for God’s blessing.”

Purchase your copy of The Destiny of Sunshine Ranch

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Do Boys Like Gabriel and Faden Really Exist?

Guys on purity
You haven’t met Gabriel yet. But he’s a teen boy with gorgeous blue eyes, dark hair and a handsome face. He could be a model if he wanted to. And he could probably have any girl that he wanted to also. But his desire is to lead a pure life, dedicated to following Christ. Gabriel is from my upcoming novel, Freeing Tanner Rose.

Faden is another character with similar aspirations. He’s from my novel, The Destiny of Sunshine Ranch.

But do boys like Gabriel and Faden really exist? Are there boys out there who strive for purity, modesty and other strong Christian values, or are my novels just fairy-tales?

So tell me. Do you know boys like Gabriel and Faden? Why do you believe that these boys are few and far between?

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Christmas Special on “The Destiny of Sunshine Ranch”

Friends! With Christmas coming up fast, I’m offering a discount to shoppers of The Destiny of Sunshine Ranch.

Up until Christmas day, you can purchase a signed copy for $5.99 plus shipping.

Please note that this deal is only available through this website. Just send an e-mail to me at tmgaouette(at)gmail.com and an invoice will be sent to you.

Don’t forget to submit a name for inscription if you’d like a personal note and your shipping address.

If you loved The Destiny of Sunshine Ranch, then share it with your friends and family this Christmas!

Best and blessings to you all,

TMG

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Book Reviews and More Lists “The Destiny of Sunshine Ranch” in Top 10 Fiction This Quarter

Great Review of “The Destiny of Sunshine Ranch” by Steven McEvoy

The Destiny of Sunshine Ranch is Featured on CatholicMom.com

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Book Reviews and More Lists “The Destiny of Sunshine Ranch” in Top 10 Fiction This Quarter

I just wanted to say thank you to Steven McEvoy at Book Reviews and More for listing The Destiny of Sunshine Ranch in his top 10 fiction books for the 3rd quarter. I’m so honored and appreciative of the recognition. You’ll see how much of an honor it is when you review Mr. McEvoy’s impressive annual reading lists.

Visit Book Reviews and More and check out the other great titles listed.

Image Credit: bookreviewsandmore.ca