Study Guide

Missing May Love

By Cynthia Rylant

Love

Love determines all the characters' motives and actions in Missing May. To be clear, we're talking about familial love—like Summer's love for her adoptive parents, and Uncle Ob's love for his deceased wife. Even though their little family unit lives in a small town and inhabits a modest trailer, they never feel like they want for anything when they're together. So when May dies, there's a huge gap left behind, and Summer and Uncle Ob are left to try to fill it. Needless to say, it's hard for them.

Questions About Love

  1. How exactly does Summer know that her mom loved her if she never really knew her? 
  2. Why is Summer surprised by Cletus's parents and how palpable their love for their son is? Is it because he's a weird kid? 
  3. Is love really all that Summer and Uncle Ob need to survive following Aunt May's death?

Chew on This

Uncle Ob and Summer worry that their lives will be empty and not worthwhile without Aunt May's love to guide them, but in the end they learn that her love never left them at all.

Summer always thought that Cletus was weird and to be avoided, but meeting his parents and seeing just how much they love him makes her see him differently.

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