By Marivi Soliven
New American LibraryMay 2013

Trade Paperback368 pages, $15.00, ISBN: 9780451239846
Subject: Women's Lives / Culture / Social Issues

  1. The question of motherhood is examined closely in The Mango Bride and nowhere is there more ambiguity than the roles Marcela and Senora Concha play in the lives of Amparo, Javier and Miguel. What makes someone a mother? And is Marcela’s opening act understandable once you have heard her fuller story? Is it defensible? Is it right
  2. Amparo and Beverly both come to America seeking a better life than what they can have in the Philippines—but they find very different results. Why is this? Do they each deserve what they find here? In general do you believe people get what they deserve in life?
  3. Early in the book, when Amparo is doing laundry, she recalls that when her mother heard of how she does her own wash Señora Concha cried, “My daughter was not raised to wash her own clothes!” What does Amparo lose by coming to America? What does she gain? Do you think the move was worth the price? In what ways is The Mango Bride a book about class?
  4. Amparo has two lovers through the course of the book—one in the Philippines and one in America. Yet these men are very different from one another. Has Amparo’s view of love changed as she traveled? If so, what has facilitated this growth?
  5. Beverly’s experience of “love” in America is quite different from Amparo’s. Why do you think the women had such different outcomes?
  6. Manong Del seems like a minor character in this story—but why is his presence important? What issues does he allow the author to explore?
  7. Uncle Aldo and Amparo form a bond as two expelled members of the family clan. In the beginning of the story we are told “Curiously, neither one ever talked about the reasons for their expulsion. Amparo’s reticence was borne of shame, Aldo’s, of guilt.” How has this changed by the end of the story? In what way is this a story about secrets and the way they effect relationships?
  8. The concept of shame recurs throughout the novel and directly affects way the Filipino characters make crucial life decisions. Would someone from another culture respond differently to the situations in which Amparo, Clara or Beverly felt shamed? Discuss how a woman in this country might respond to if she had to deal with single motherhood, unplanned pregnancy, an abusive relationship or an adulterous husband.
  9. The author’s original working title for The Mango Bride was In the Service of Secrets. Who has secrets in this story? Who eventually reveals their secrets? And does this telling bring harm or does it bring help?
  10. The story opens with Marcela picking up a knife from a plate of Mangoes and ends with her cooking a special meal. What role does food play in the story—and how does it tie into the title, The Mango Bride?
  11. The ending of the story is somewhat open to interpretation. What do you think happens next for Amparo, Seamus, Clara, Marcela, Senior Concha and Aldo?