Reading guide for Hello Goodbye by Emily Chenoweth

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Hello Goodbye

A Novel

By Emily Chenoweth

Hello Goodbye
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  • Hardcover: May 2009,
    288 pages.
    Paperback: Jun 2011,
    304 pages.

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Reading Guide Questions Print Excerpt

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!

  1. The novel is told from three different perspectives: Abby's, Elliott's, and Helen's. Whom do you see as the central character? Which is your favorite?
  2. Although death is very much a large part of Hello Goodbye, the book doesn't feel depressing. Why do you think that's the case? What elements does Chenoweth include in her story that prevent it from being too sad of a read?
  3. How does the setting of the hotel and its grounds affect the plot and characters? Why do you think Chenoweth chose this particular location? How does she use nature symbolically?
  4. For Abby, the week in which Hello Goodbye takes place serves as a kind of coming-of-age. How does she change throughout the novel? How do you think she'll be different when she leaves New Hampshire?
  5. Abby encounters two very different young men in her stay; what does she find appealing about them, and who do you think she would ultimately fit best with? Do you think these relationships could exist outside of the confines of the hotel?
  6. Every character in this novel deals with grief differently; some express denial, others act out in surprising ways. Which reactions do you identify with most? How have you dealt with grief in your own life?
  7. Chenoweth writes that Elliott had "read somewhere that people who lost everything in a fire or flood often felt a great and terrible relief. Waking in strange beds, and clothes they'd borrowed, they experienced a peace that was almost holy." Can you understand this sentiment? How does loss sometimes liberate us?
  8. How does Helen process what is happening to her? How have her relationships to her husband, daughter, and friends changed? How much do you think she knows about her fate?
  9. Sylvie's character is that of the outsider. How does her presence–and actions–change the atmosphere of the week? Do you find her to be sympathetic? What are her intentions?
  10. What repercussions does Elliott's decision to keep secret the severity of Helen's illness have? Do you think he made the right decision? What would you have done in his situation?
  11. Abby behaves uncharacteristically with Dom and then Vic towards the end of the novel. Compare these two interactions and discuss her thoughts going into them.
  12. Helen's illness has changed her significantly, both physically and mentally. What do you think she was like before she became ill?

Unless otherwise stated, this discussion guide is reprinted with the permission of Harper Perennial. 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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