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The Seventeen Second Miracle
Jason F. Wright
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INTRODUCTION

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Wednesday Letters and Christmas Jars comes a story of small kindnesses—and life-changing miracles

Seventeen seconds can change a life—forever. This is what Rex Connor learned on a summer afternoon in 1970 when, as a lifeguard, his gaze was diverted for seventeen seconds and tragedy occurred. Forty years later the waves of that day still ripple through the lives of countless people, including Rex's son, Cole.

Cole Connor is a patient teacher, and he has long shared his father's story with those in need. This fall, Cole has invited three struggling teenagers to visit him to learn about Rex Connor—and the Seventeen Second Miracle.

The teens will hear how Rex remade his life—seventeen seconds at a time—by performing small acts of kindness that sometimes had life-altering consequences. As Cole's students learn, miracles can happen—with a little help from you. When this knowledge is put to a surprising test, what the students discover may transform your world, as it did theirs. A seventeen second miracle can change your life—if you let it.


ABOUT JASON F. WRIGHT

Jason F. Wright

Jason F. Wright is the New York Times bestselling author of The Wednesday Letters and Christmas Jars. He's also a political commentator whose editorials have appeared in newspapers nationwide and a popular speaker who speaks on writing, service, and various political and social issues. He has been seen on CNN, FoxNews, C-SPAN, and on local television affiliates around the country. He lives with his wife, Kodi, and their four children in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia.


DISCUSSION QUESTIONS


  1. Why do you think most people blame Rex for Flick's drowning? Do you think that is a fair assessment? Why or why not?

  2. Losing a child is an emotional hardship. Do you think Flick's mother was so unforgiving of Rex because she thought he could have prevented Flick's death, or is there something more to her ire?

  3. Forgiveness can be a slow process. Discuss why Sparks and Rex stay together even after everything that's happened in their relationship, and to her family. Did you ever doubt they would be able to make their relationship work?

  4. Why do you think Sparks was so quick to forgive Rex and help him heal?

  5. Discuss the significance of Cole and Jade's porch and how it becomes a point of contention when Jade considers it "Cole's porch," but also how it becomes a haven for them and others.

  6. Jade and Cole cannot have children and Jade had become "defeated with God." At one point, Jade says "I won't feel sorry for myself and blame God. I won't. I'll just live a different life than the one I dreamed of" (p 114 manuscript). Discuss how this tests their faith and marriage.

  7. Rex "knew no strangers" (p 128 manuscript). How does this work in context with his life's work in performing, witnessing, and collecting seventeen-second miracle?

  8. Jade gives Cole braids that symbolize the past, present, and future and reminds him to remember what the Discussions are really about. Why do you think it took so long for Jade to have this conversation with him? How do you think it changed how Cole led the Discussions from then on?

  9. Would you consider the incident with Travis on the Mall a "failed miracle?" Why or why not? Are there other examples throughout the novel where the characters are confronted with a "failed miracle," only to have their faith see them through?

  10. At the end of chapter 31, Cole says, "I retrieved Travis's watch. It worked, but it was badly beaten" (pg 152 manuscript). How is this symbolic of what just happened in the story? Were Travis's actions toward Cole justified after the incident?

  11. Why do you think Jade is willing to give up Paper Gems if they can't arrest the arsonist? How does this exemplify the type of person she is?

  12. As an apology to Jade, Cole buys three dozen roses and tucks a card into each vase, telling her to open them in any order. Discuss the symbolism and significance of the order in which she opens them: "You. I. Love."

  13. Cole and Jade fight on their honeymoon because Cole is performing a miracle after Jade asks him not to get involved. Is it ever possible for a miracle to be detrimental?

  14. At one point, Cole contemplates that his father "raised me in seventeen second miracles." Do you think there is any truth to this statement?

  15. Do you think that Cole was better prepared for the Discussions by not following in his father's footsteps? Why or why not?

  16. Discuss the difference between "being good" and "goody-goody" (pg 226 manuscript) in the context of the story and Rex's life.

  17. Have you ever performed or experienced a seventeen second miracle?