Questions for Discussion

For Part 1, pages 11-108

Luke blames his parents’ divorce on his dad’s obsession with finishing a book about “some lost civilization over here.” He’s also mad that his father has brought him to Peshawar over his holiday break — so Luke refuses to visit the ruins or learn anything about his dad’s project.

• What would you have done if you’d been in Luke’s place?
 Why?

• Has there ever been a situation in your life where you felt
 as Luke did? Explain.

Professor Shaheen urges Luke to trust his first impressions of people, and not to trust anyone who doesn’t seem okay. So why does Luke trust Yusuf? Was that a good decision? When he first meets Amal in a cafe, Luke isn’t sure what is going on — but he doesn’t walk away. Why not? Give at least two reasons why he stays.

Luke and Yusuf both feel a deep connection with the music of Bob Marley. Is there a musician or a band that speaks to you in a similar way? Explain your relationship with that artist or group and their music.

Luke has brought a case that holds 12 cassettes, with music by his favorite artists. Let’s say you’re traveling to a place in the world where internet connections won’t always be available. You can only fit the music of four artists or bands on your phone. Along with the artist or group above, what would be your second, third and fourth choices? Give one reason for each choice.

 

For Part 2, pages 109-172

Luke feels he can’t tell his father anything about the Wahhabis’ plot to steal and burn the professors’ book. Why not? Would you have made the same decision?

Luke has been warned never to be alone with Danisha, because in the strict local culture that could expose an unmarried girl to great danger. Yet he sneaks out to talk with her at the Peshawar Museum. Was that choice fair to her? If you were Dani, what would you have done when Luke appeared at the museum?

Yusuf finally tells Luke what happened to his family. What part of his story affected you the most? Can you connect Yusuf ’s experience with similar stories you’ve seen or heard in the news lately, about refugees fleeing violence in their homeland?

At the end of Part 2, Luke trades himself for Yusuf. Give three reasons why he does this. Now give three reasons why he should not have done this. Which choice would you have made?

 

In the last chapters of Part 2 and then in Part 3, we can say that Yusuf, Luke, Danisha, Luke’s dad, and Prof. Shaheen all make sacrifices. Choose one of those characters. Explain what they sacrifice — and why.

Luke’s dad and Prof. Shaheen worked very hard to produce a book about how the first Buddha images were created in ancient Gandhara. They think the world should hear this story. Why do they believe it’s important? Do you agree? Why, or why not?

You’re Rashi, one year after this story ends. Write a journal entry from his point of view. Okay, now you’re Dani. Write a page from her journal.

Do you think Luke and Dani will stay in touch? If not, why not? If so, how might they choose to communicate? There’s no internet at this time — and phone calls from the U.S. to Pakistan are very difficult and expensive to make. So be creative!

Make a list of all the people Luke decides to trust. For example, the police inspector. The Sufi teacher. Who else? Choose one of these characters, and explain why you think Luke trusted him or her. Would you have done the same?

Choose a place in the world where you would like to travel and live for a month. Why did you pick that place — and what would you hope to gain from the experience?

For Part 3, pages 173-215

Do you agree with Dani’s decision to stay in Peshawar, or would you have accepted Luke’s offer to come live with his family in the U.S.? Explain your reasoning — this is a big decision!

Luke changes as the novel unfolds. Select a choice he makes in Part 1, another in Part 2, and one in Part 3 — and explain how these three choices show the  changes in Luke.

Does Luke use music as a personal hiding place, a means to connect with others — or both? Give three examples of how Luke’s relationship with music evolves as he changes.

Street of Storytellers gives us a glimpse of what life was like for girls and women in Pakistan in the early 1980s, when religious extremism was growing strong there. From what you’ve learned, how is life different for girls and women today, in places where the Taliban or ISIS are in control?

Religion is important to both Rasheed and Danisha — but each has a very different view of what that means. Give specific examples to show how Dani views her religion, and how Rashi sees it.

How important is religion in your life? Can you give an example of what it means to you, or how you try to act on its teachings?