Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
Toby initiates a relationship with June that necessarily involves secrets kept from her parents. Can this ever be right? Is it ever okay for an adult to have a secret relationship with a child, even if it's formed out of the best of intentions?
Every relationship in the book is tinged with jealousy and/or envy. How is this played out in each of the relationships? Can jealousy ever be a positive thing? Does loving someone too much always lead to jealousy?
How do you feel about Danni, June's mother? How much is she to blame for the events in the book?
What did you make of June's special feelings for Finn? Have you ever felt the wrong kind of love for someone in your own life?
"The sun kept on with its slipping away, and I thought how many small good things in the world might be resting on the shoulders of something terrible." How does this speak to the events in Tell the Wolves I'm Home? Can terrible things like AIDS result in good?
"You get into habits. Ways of being with certain people." Toby says this to June when they're talking about her relationship with Greta. Many sisters (and brothers) have fractious relationships as teenagers, then grow up to be friends. Do you think that will be the case with Greta and June? Have you had an experience like this with your own sibling(s)?
If you remember the late eighties, do you remember anything about your perception of AIDS and the fear surrounding the disease?
How has society's reaction to homosexuality changed over the last twenty-five years? How would this story have been different if it took place in 2012?
Greta is older, savvier, and knows more than June, but June sometimes seems wiser than her sister. How is this so? Does knowledge equal wisdom?
Do you think June will ever show Greta the secret basement room and the stash of Finn's paintings, or will she always keep this to herself?
Do you blame June for what happens to Toby toward the end of the book? Do you think June will ever forgive herself for what happened that night?
Do you think the portrait was more beautiful before or after it was restored to its original state? Can a work of art be improved by external additions, or is the artist's vision and intention the most important aspects of art?
June would like to escape to the Middle Ages. All her favorite places are escapist in nature. Would June actually be happy if her wish of time travel were granted? How does that wish change over the course of the story? Is escapism ever valuable? How do you escape?
Of all the themes in the novel (love, loss, regret, family relationships, etc.), which one do you think is the most important and why?
Unless otherwise stated, this discussion guide is reprinted with the permission of Dial Press.
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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