1. Kathy Ewing balances her personal story with background on borderline personality disorder. How do you feel about this balance? Is there either too much autobiography or too much borderline information?
2. Can you identify people in your life who may be on the BPD spectrum?
3. BPD is not as well understood by the public as depression, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia. Considering its prevalence, why do you think this is so?
4. Which anecdotes struck you particularly forcefully as examples of Ewing’s mother’s mental illness?
5. What was Ewing’s father’s role in the family dynamic? What purpose does he serve in the book?
6. Discuss the personalities and family roles of Ewing and her two sisters. Do you find them all sympathetic? Were you shocked by or disappointed in any of their reactions and behavior?
7. Consider Ewing’s experience of parenting her own children. To what extent are our parenting choices shaped by our upbringing?
8. Ewing has structured the book in three parts: memories, BPD, and reconciliation. Does this structure work?
9. BPD is a stigmatized mental illness. Does Ewing contribute to the stigma or help in the destigmatization? Do you find Ewing’s mother a sympathetic character? Do you feel it’s helpful to have a name for her mother’s behavior, or is BPD merely a label?
10. Do you think Ewing has presented a balanced view of herself and her mother? Explain why or why not.
11. The mother-daughter relationship is often complicated. Why is it so fraught? What in Ewing’s relationship with her mother would you say is normal family tension?
12. Ewing never sought counseling for her family’s problems. Why do you suppose this was? Might it have been helpful?
13. How do you interpret the title “Missing”?
14. What has Ewing learned by the end of the book?
15. Consider a movie based on the book. What actors would play each family member and neighbor?
16. Have you experienced “the turn” (see page 66) in your life—from parents, relatives, or bosses? How does your experience compare to Ewing’s?
17. Reflect on the Mary Oliver poem that serves as the book’s epigraph. What “boxful of darkness” became a gift for Ewing? Have you ever had the experience of discovering that a hardship in life was also a gift? Did any other epigraphs at the head of chapters strike a chord with you?