Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
The Girls is written as a fictional autobiography. Why do you
think the author chose this format? Did you ever have to remind yourself
while reading that The Girls is a novel rather than a memoir?
Rose and Ruby have spent every moment of their lives bound to each
other, and yet they have forged two very distinct personalities and ways of
looking at the world. What does this novel say about identity? How does each
sister manifest individuality? In what ways do they borrow from each other?
The girls are accustomed to being stared at. But when they travel with
Aunt Lovey and Uncle Stash to Slovakia, they find themselves in a situation
where for the first time in their lives not one person stares. Why does Rose
find this so unsettling?
A major theme of the novel is the challenge of being an outsider. Are
there characters other than Rose and Ruby who could be considered outcasts?
What do they add to the story, and to your understanding of the novel?
Throughout The Girls we are let in on information that Rose and
Ruby don't tell each other. What role do secrets play in the story? Were you
surprised by some of the things Rose and Ruby kept from each other? What
about Aunt Lovey and Uncle Stash?
What function does the town of Leaford have in the narrative? Could this
lonely corner of Canada be said to be a character in itself? How might the
story have been different had it taken place somewhere else?
The novel is, at times, endearingly funny. Do you have a favorite
Aunt Lovey is portrayed by Rose and Ruby as a very wise woman. Is it
possible that their perception of her is influenced by their deep gratitude
for her sacrifices in raising them? Why do you think they never refer to her
as their mother?
Did you find yourself forgetting that Rose and Ruby were joined at the
head? In what way is the bond of sisterhood more important than their
The girls said that, if given the chance, they wouldn't want to be
separated. Is this a sentiment you understand? How does the dynamic of the
girls relate to real-life relationships you've been in or witnessed?
Unless otherwise stated, this discussion guide is reprinted with the permission of Back Bay Books.
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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