I felt that the book tried too hard to have a redemptive, wrapped-up ending come together conclusively at the end. There didn't seem to be a logical "growth" leading towards the two main characters' decisions to changes their view/way of life. They just suddenly did. And I get that these sorts of epiphanies happen. But to happen to both the main characters one right after the other seemed too pat.
1. What would YOU do if your house burned down, leaving you homeless and with no material resources at your command?
Honestly, and I feel like I'm avoiding the point of the question, I wouldn't be homeless the way Cerise is homeless if my apartment building burned down. I wouldn't have that same place to live in or those same things I had in it. But my parents, sister, and grandparents live 20 minutes away in homes with empty guest bedrooms so we'd have a place to stay. We have a good renter's insurance policy and we both earn good incomes. It would totally suck to have our apartment burn down and have to start over accumulating material possession but it wouldn't devastate our lives the way it does Cerise's.
2. Was there anything Cerise could have done to make a better life for herself?
I don't think she should have ran. She was in school and doing well. She enjoyed it and was passing her classes. Had she stayed after the fire, it is most possible that she could have found another place to live and finished her schooling, leading to a better job.
3. How was it a good thing that Anna and Cerise met each other at this time in their lives?
I think Anna needed someone to ask questions and be curious about art and Cerise needed to spend time with Anna's children and feel like someone was her friend.