Discussion Guide for Egypt Rising


The Setting

1. Egypt Rising is set in modern Cairo circa 2011. It is a city of very distinct neighborhoods. What very distinct neighborhoods are mentioned in the novel?

2. Chicago and New York have also been described as cities composed of very distinct neighborhoods. What similarities and differences do you see between Cairo’s neighborhoods and those of American cities?


Olivia Hunter

1. What is Olivia’s attitude towards the restrictions Aasuma is forced to accept?

2. Describe Olivia’s self-image at the beginning of the novel. How does it change?

3. What are some of the characteristics you associate with Olivia?

4. What are some examples of maturity that Olivia exhibits even early in the novel?

5. Describe the relationship Olivia has with her father.

6. Describe how Olivia’s view of Taylor changes. Does the change strike you as plausible?

7. What are some early signs of Olivia’s interest in Paul?

Taylor Thornton

1. What are some of Taylor’s praiseworthy traits?

2. Describe the relationship Taylor has with her father.

3. What explains Taylor’s animosity towards Olivia? Is it plausible?

4. How do you think Taylor would describe herself?

5. Does Taylor’s change in attitude towards Olivia seem plausible?

Aasuma Nur

1. How would you describe Aasuma? What praiseworthy traits does she have?

2. How would you describe her relationship with her brother?

3. Does the attitude the Western students have towards Egyptian students such as Assuma strike you as realistic?

4. What kind of prejudices do the non-Western students exhibit?

5. Does the friendship Aasuma has with Olivia strike you as plausible?

Matt Hunter

1. Was Matt justified in keeping the secret from Olivia?

2 How would you describe the relationship between Matt and Emily?

3 What are some of the strengths & weaknesses of Matt as a teacher?

4. Does Matt change during the course of the novel?

The Politics of Modern Egypt

1. How would you compare the Egyptian revolution of 2011 as described in Egypt Rising with the ongoing events surrounding the Army’s recent deposing of Mohammad Morsi?

2. Mr. Hargrove’s journal entries reflect those of an Israeli agent with an admitted bias, but how do they square with your understanding of the Egyptian revolution?

3. Egypt Rising describes how some students joined nationalist clubs supporting an Islamic form of government. Using Iran as an example, what kinds of restrictions could be found under such a form of government?

4. Olivia Hunter, a 15 year-old American girl who has never lived anywhere but Cairo narrates Egypt Rising. Do you find examples where her view of Egyptian politics might not be accurate?

5. Do the actions of the Egyptian Government in offering a tenured teaching position to Matt Hunter in exchange for the promise of silence from Olivia and her father seem realistic? Why would the Government be so anxious to kill the story of Olivia’s discoveries?

The Paranormal in Egypt Rising

1. Research the life of Edgar Cayce. Describe some of his “miracles.” Are there any rational explanations for his ability to cure patients?

2. What do you think about the theory that refugees from Atlantis helped accelerate the growth of Egyptian civilization?

3. Research some of the theories regarding the disappearance of the Ark of the Covenant. What do you think happened to it?

4. Edgar Cayce predicted that a Hall of Records would be discovered under the Sphinx. Visit the Edgar Cayce Association for Research and Enlightenment website (www.edgarcayce.org) and read more detailed accounts of the Hall of Records. Does such a library sound plausible?

5. Matt Hunter points to water damage to the Sphinx as evidence that it is much older than the pyramids. What possible explanations can you find for the origins of the Sphinx?

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