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Title: Breakfast at Sally’s: One Homeless Man’s Inspirational Journey
Author: Richard LeMieux
Page Count: 433 pages
Genre: Nonfiction, Memoir
Tone: Thought-provoking, Moving, Hopeful
A self-made man with his own successful company, Richard LeMieux lived a very comfortable life. After losing everything, he spent two years living out of his van and learning to rely on others’ generosity. His uplifting story cuts through stereotypes and offers a powerful look at homelessness in society.
These book discussion questions are highly detailed and will ruin plot points if you have not read the book.
Questions composed by MPPL Staff
1. How did you feel as you were reading this story? For example, were you offended, repulsed, ashamed, indignant, uncomfortable, concerned, and/or inspired during different chapters?
2. Many reviews, including one comment on the back of the book, claim that Breakfast at Sally’s “refutes the stereotypes that the general public has about the homeless population.” Do you agree?
3. What did you think of C? What impact does he have on Richard?
4. Willow is an important part of Richard’s story. How would his experiences be different without her?
5. Describe Richard at different points in the book. How does he change? Do you find him to be sympathetic? Do you like him?
6. How reliable a narrator is Richard? Is this factual, embellished, whitewashed, or dramatized? Do you trust him? Does it matter?
7. What other characters and situations did you find memorable? What made them stand out?
8. What about those who did make an effort to help? What were their reasons or motivations?
9. How was religion depicted? What role did this play in Richard’s stories?
10. Could this story have happened in another U.S. city? LeMieux gives a lot of credit to Bremerton; is it unique in this respect?
11. Though dealing with very serious realities, Breakfast at Sally’s is hopeful and inspiring. How does LeMieux keep the story from becoming preachy or weighed down with heavy issues?
12. What did you think of the writing style? Did you appreciate the use of flashbacks?
13. How is this book relevant to our communities today? What messages might it convey about mental health, depression, compassion, or activism?
14. What difference might this book make? What can we do?
15. Did this story change your perception of the homeless? In what ways?
16. Is this an easier topic to consider due to current economic pressures? In other words, are we more likely to see this as something that could happen to ourselves or those we know and therefore more open to understanding and to wanting to take action?
17. Did you feel pressure to like this book or to be changed by it because of the subject matter?
18. Are you glad you read Breakfast at Sally’s?
Want help with your book discussion group? Check out tips, advice, and all the ways the Library can help support your group!
2015 video interview with Richard LeMieux
New York Times featured review
insights to selection as Suburban Mosaic Book of the Year
regional Salvation Army testimonials
official Breakfast at Sally’s website
A Street Cat Named Bob: And How He Saved My Life by James Bowen
The Girl’s Guide to Homelessness: A Memoir by Brianna Karp
Homeless at Harvard: Finding Faith and Friendship on the Streets of Harvard Square by John Christopher Frame