Study Guide

The Forest of Hands and Teeth Family

By Carrie Ryan

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Rick Riordan got it right in The Sea of Monsters when he wrote, "Families are messy. Immortal families are eternally messy. Sometimes the best we can do is to remind each other that we're related for better or for worse... and try to keep the maiming and killing to a minimum." Turns out this is true in the case of god, half-blood, and zombie families alike, and there's plenty of familial betrayal and hurt in The Forest of Hands and Teeth. Mary's mom chose zombie life over life with her kids. Um… that's gotta hurt. Jed chose his wife's comfort over Mary's happiness. Ouch again. Mary outed Jed's secret about Beth… Let's just say the ol' family tree isn't perfectly pruned and flowery. But here's the thing: Like Percy's immortal relations, even zombie/mortal families need to figure out how to get beyond the mess and stick together anyhow. Mary forgives Jed, and Jed sticks with Mary even when it costs him his life. Family ain't pretty, but sometimes it's all we've got. As Hermes later counsels Percy, "My dear young cousin, if there's one thing I've learned over the eons, it's that you can't give up on your family, no matter how tempting they make it." So true.

Questions About Family

  1. Why did Jed reject Mary after their mother's death?
  2. Why would Mary forgive Jed, even after everything he did to her?
  3. How did Mary's mother's decision affect Mary physically, emotionally, and even spiritually?
  4. Did Mary's mom get close to the fence on purpose, or was it an accident?

Chew on This

After their mother's zombie-hood, Jed rejected Mary to protect Beth.

After their mother's zombie-hood, Jed rejected Mary to protect himself.

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