Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
Abby makes a point of telling Sara what she calls "girls in trouble" stories about the awful times unmarried pregnant girls suffered in the 1950s. But who really are the "girls in trouble" in this book-and why?
At one point in the novel, Sara drops off all the gifts she's bought and saved for Anne and leaves them, "like abandoned babies" at a church doorstep. She says this is a new script, one she's writing for herself. Anne, too, uses writing to reshape and understand her life. Why are stories--the ones we tell each other and the ones we tell ourselves--so important in this book? How are some of these stories misinterpreted?
Why do you think Leavitt made Eva and George older parents? How does this figure into the themes of the novel?
Danny, lying in bed, categorizes all the things he knows about his baby son. He says now he knows everything but "he's smart enough to know that soon he wouldn't." George also mentions how he feels Anne moving away. Nothing stays still or can be captured in time. How does this make Sara's loss more acute?
At one point in the book, Jack says, "the only love that counts is the love you have for your child." Does the book bear this out?
Leavitt clearly believes in the permanence of first love, but do you think Danny and Sara could have really been happy together?
The definition of family in this book is ever changing. What makes a family? Which ones in the book are the most successful and why?
"Loss is like a pie," Sara says. It may get smaller and gradually disappear but we're always hungry for it. How is this true for each character in the novel?
Why do you think Leavitt explored open adoption by getting inside the minds of so many different and diverse characters?
Leavitt has said in interviews that, despite the difficulties, she is very much pro open adoption. Why then, do you think she presented an open adoption situation that was less than ideal? What do you think she was trying to say about what could have, or should have been done to make this whole situation a happier one for everyone involved?
Unless otherwise stated, this discussion guide is reprinted with the permission of St. Martin's Griffin.
Any page references refer to a USA edition of the book, usually the trade paperback version, and may vary in other editions.
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