Reading Guide Questions
Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
- Compare Sue William Silverman to other contemporary women memoirists (such as Susanna Kaysen, Kathryn Harrison, and Caroline Knapp) who write about addiction, incest, or emotional issues.
- How are the "dangerous men" with whom Silverman "acts out" representative of her father? How does Silverman's past affect the events presented in Love Sick?
- What role does the Workbook play in telling Silverman's story?
- Silverman uses such concrete items as a maroon scarf, photographs, and a turquoise earring as metaphors. Discuss the kinds of emotional states these items represent.
- Compare sex addiction to other addictions. What role does food play on this rehab unit? In what ways is sex addiction about more than just sex?
- What is at stake for Silverman if she doesn't recover? What does she risk losing?
- Compare Silverman with the other women on the unit. In what ways do they either help or impede her recovery? Who has more of an impact on Silverman, Linda, Jill, or "Pole Lady"?
- What are the major conflicts in Love Sick? Is the emphasis on internal conflict, external, or both?
- When Ted, the therapist, talks about relationships, he uses the phrase, "Water seeks its own level." What does this mean in terms of Silverman's relationship with her husband? With Rick?
- Even though Ted is portrayed as a sympathetic therapist, how do you feel about him, given the fact that Gabriel was hired to be in daily contact with the women on the unit?
- In memoir there are usually at least two "voices," even though there is only one narrator. One voice tells the story, the other reflects upon it. Discuss how these two voices twine together in Love Sick, one to represent the addict woman, the other the woman struggling to be sober.
- The idea of language plays a crucial role in Love Sick in terms of revealing how certain words can be "sober," while others can keep one in an addiction. What are some of these words and how does Silverman's language change over the course of the memoir?
- Love Sick suggests that we are a nation that uses sex to sell everything: cars, alcohol, movies, music, children's clothing--even love. What are specific examples of this that you see in the world around you? How does this affect women? Men?
- How do you think Hollywood would rewrite the ending of Love Sick?
Copyright Sue Silverman 2002.
Unless otherwise stated, this discussion guide is reprinted with the permission of W.W. Norton & Company.
Any page references refer to a USA edition of the book, usually the trade paperback version, and may vary in other editions.