Reading guide for The Speed of Light by Elizabeth Rosner

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

The Speed of Light

By Elizabeth Rosner

The Speed of Light
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • Hardcover: Aug 2001,
    256 pages.
    Paperback: Apr 2003,
    272 pages.

    Publication Information

  • Rate this book


Buy This Book

About this Book

Reading Guide Questions Print Excerpt

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!

  1. The Speed of Light features three very distinctive characters and their struggles to overcome the difficulties of their past. Which character did you relate to the most? And why?

  2. The novel ends with each character on the brink of a new discovery. What do you imagine happens after the end of the book? What do you think the future holds for Sola, Julian and Paula?

  3. Compare and contrast how the presence of color, scent and sound informs the lives of Julian, Paula and Sola.

  4. Certain metaphors recur throughout the novel and have thematic as well as structural significance. For example, the metaphors of breaking into pieces and unraveling appear for all three characters, and this imagery is also reflected in the frequent alternation of point of view. The result is an impression of fragmentation, which also sets the stage for the interweaving of the characters' lives. Can you find other examples of repeating metaphors and their effects in the novel?

  5. The pivotal role of science and scientific language in The Speed of Light is not only apparent from the book's title, but also Julian's science dictionary literally becomes the novel's fourth voice. What were your impressions of the definitions? Did any of them strike you as particularly resonant in your understanding of the characters and/or the book overall?

  6. In the novel, bearing witness to tragedy implies a responsibility held by both the person telling the story and the person listening. How do you think these responsibilities differ? Do you agree with Sola that each role is important in the healing process? Do you think this idea is applicable to the world today?

  7. Did any of the characters or scenes from The Speed of Light stay with you after you finished reading the book? If so, which ones and why?

  8. The bonds of family are a central theme in the novel - both the secrets and silences that arise as well as the close relationships formed between parent and child, brother and sister. Are there any feelings in the book that resonate with your own family experiences? Do you think this kind of complexity is common to the American family today?

  9. During the course of the novel, each character experiences a significant change and ends up in quite a different place than he or she expected. Did you, as a reader, find the book altered any of your perceptions or experiences in the world around you? If so, discuss these changes and the feelings they inspired.

Unless otherwise stated, this discussion guide is reprinted with the permission of Ballantine Books. Any page references refer to a USA edition of the book, usually the trade paperback version, and may vary in other editions.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!
Member Benefits

Join Now!

Check the advantages!
Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year

    •  
    • FREE
    • MEMBER
    • Range of media reviews for each book
    • Excerpts of all featured books
    • Author bios, interviews and pronunciations
    • Browse by genre
    • Book club discussions
    • Book club advice and reading guides
    • BookBrowse reviews and "beyond the book" back-stories
    •  
    • Reviews of notable books ahead of publication
    •  
    • Free books to read and review (US Only)
    •  
    • Browse for the best books by time period, setting & theme
    •  
    • Read-alike suggestions for thousands of books and authors
    •  
    • 'My Reading List" to keep track of your books
    •  
Sign up, win books!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Take This Man
    Take This Man
    by Brando Skyhorse
    "A chorus of six men calling me Son might sound ludicrous to you, but to me it's the sound of ...
  • Book Jacket: The Hundred-Year House
    The Hundred-Year House
    by Rebecca Makkai
    Rebecca Makkai's sophomore novel The Hundred-Year House could just have easily been titled ...
  • Book Jacket
    The Valley of Amazement
    by Amy Tan
    "Mirror, Mirror on the wall
    I am my mother after all!"


    In my pre-retirement days as a professor ...

First Impressions

Members read and review books ahead
of publication. See what they think
in First Impressions!

Books that
expand your
horizons.

Visitors can view a lot of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only

Find out more.

Book Discussions
Book Jacket

Tomlinson Hill
by Chris Tomlinson

Published Jul. 2014

Join the discussion!

Win this book!
Win The Angel of Losses

The Angel of Losses

"Family saga, mystery, and myth intersect in Feldman's debut novel." - Booklist

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

E C H A Silver L

and be entered to win..

Books thatinspire you.Handpicked.

Books you'll stay up all night reading; books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, books that will expand your mind and inspire you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.