1. “You can’t judge a book by its cover.” Or can you? Discuss both cover and title and how they relate to the book.
2. The concepts of fate and destiny come up a number of times both directly and indirectly. (Notably page 60.) Are they the same? Was the accident fate and/or part of the author’s destiny or neither?
3. In the prologue and later, Ramona writes about receiving and following “the guidance of a still small voice.” Have you experienced anything similar? If yes, was being in a state of duress a necessary component? How has paying attention to the voice, or not, affected your life?
4. On page 16, Ramona refers to the “language of the heart” as being different from the language of explanations. What do you think she means by this? Are there any passages that “speak to your heart”?
5. A photo of a rock with “xi xin” (wash your heart) appears at the front of the story, seeming to indicate its importance in the mind of the author. Later on (page 140-141), she shares her thoughts about “wash your heart.” Does this seem to you to be the story’s main message? If not, what do you think is?
6. What differences and similarities between your way of life and that of the people in this story did you notice? Did any surprise you?
7. Many people in the West/ “First World” only know about China through mainstream media. From what you know about China, what problems do the people there face? Are we affected by those problems at all? Do we contribute to some of them?
8. Eria, Haiwu and Yeming were 22 years old when this story took place. As members of a transitional generation in China, what role might they have in the “new China”? What is the “new China”? What are your predictions about China?
9. Dancing in the Heart of the Dragon is largely a story of friendship, both cross-cultural and cross-generational. How common are these types of friendship in your society? What are the benefits?
10. Ramona shares and interprets nine dreams. Are they a distraction or do they add depth to her story? Have you ever remembered your dreams, written them down and worked with them? If so, was doing so a worthwhile experience?
11. Who was your favourite character? What did you appreciate about him/her?
12. Share passages that stood out for you. What made them stand out? Did you feel with any of them that you were “right there” with the author? If so, how was she able to “bring you along”?
13. The author decided to start her story in an airport washroom then continue from a hospital bed, switching back and forth in time. Did this kind of structure work for you? Was sharing the accident early on a good idea? What did you think of the story’s being told through narrative, journal entries, email correspondence and conversations?
14. If Dancing in the Heart of the Dragon were made into a movie, how would you recommend it be filmed? Who would you cast in the roles? What about a soundtrack?
15. Has this book caused you to rethink any of your previously held opinions? Do you think it’s important for Westerners to learn about China? How might the West and China learn from each other?