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UNTIL PROVEN INNOCENT Discussion Questions

These questions may contain spoilers, and it is recommended that you read the book first.


  1. Does Alison have a right to be angry at her family for not explaining her grandmother’s decision to put Grandpa in a nursing home sooner? Would you want to know the details of what forced Grandma to make that decision? Why or why not?
  2. Alison considers her younger brothers her friends. Is this an appropriate role for the boys? At this age? At a younger age? At an older age? Why or why not?
  3. Alison becomes determined to learn what happened to Henry Spriggs when she realizes her grandmother was involved. What do you think her motives were? Do you accept or respect her efforts? Does her curiosity give her the right to enter the Spriggs house, despite having been forbidden to do so? Are the boys right to help her?
  4. Is Alison’s shortage of friends her own age her fault? The other kids’? Or is it no one’s fault and she simply has different interests from the other girls?
  5. Do you think Alison’s parents were right to send her to the church camp training when she didn’t want to go? Was their motive punishment or concern for their daughter? Should they have allowed her to decide to stay home? Does the fact that she not only had a good time, but gained David’s help with her research, affect how you feel about this?
  6. Andy and Sheri (Alison’s parents) clearly have their hands full with a daughter who is bright and independent but often clumsy and contrary. Are they too hard on her, or are they correct to want her to step outside of her comfort zone? To accept their authority even when she doesn’t agree with it?
  7. Henry Spriggs openly blamed Alison’s grandmother, Maggie, for the deaths of his wife and daughter. Alison believes this may have been a smokescreen to cover his own guilt. Have you, or anyone you know, ever blamed someone else for what you’d done? What was the outcome? Have you ever blurted something out in a moment of grief or anger that hurt another person, as Henry’s accusation hurt Maggie?
  8. David is struggling with his anger over his mother’s move to Minnesota and his father’s lack of concern for the loss of his children. Do you think Dr. Noguerra should have turned down the job and stayed in Texas so her children could know their father better? Or is she right to move when she is offered a better job at SMSU? What’s more important for the kids’ well-being?
  9. Alison asks her father, “When is it okay to lie?” He has trouble coming up with a coherent answer. What do you think? Do police have the right to lie to obtain a confession? Did Alison have the right to lie about Courtney’s paper? Did she have the right to lie to trick the suspect? Why or why not?
  10. Do you find this ending realistic? Satisfactory? Why or why not? What do you think would happen in this situation? Do you think the Burke kids are in danger?