Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
Rita and Glory's friendship was born of intimacy, even though they don't know each other before they begin writing. The definition of intimacy is "shared fear." How does this explain the depth of their friendship? Have you ever had a close friend with whom you shared fear? If so, how is that friendship different from others you have?
Rita and Glory are very different people. They are from different parts of the country, they are not the same age and they come from different social classes. They also share similarities with each other: motherhood, community, a strong sense of women's rights. Did you identify with one or the other character because of their similarities, or because of their differences? Which one, and why?
Glory and Rita spend a lot of time in their letters talking about their victory gardens. The gardens become a metaphor in the novel. What are some of the things the gardens represent? Was anyone inspired to plant their very own victory garden?
The romance between Levi and Glory is complicated. They were friends, childhood sweethearts, and then they were both left behind when Robert went to war. Why do you think Glory let the romance go as far as it did? How did she show her remorse? Can you sympathize with her actions? Do you forgive her? How do you feel about how the love triangle was ultimately resolved?
I'll Be Seeing You explores the many types of sacrifices people make during wartime. What did the characters in this novel sacrifice? How did they feel about their personal sacrifices? About the sacrifices of others? Would you have made the same sacrifices under the circumstances in the book? Why?
Social historians have often noted the importance of the women who went to work during wartime, seeing them as the root of the women's equal rights movement later in the twentieth century. How do the female characters in I'll Be Seeing You illustrate this? In what ways is it similar or different today?
The recipes in the book are real wartime recipes. Did you try making any of the dishes? If so, do you have a favorite? (We hope you brought them to your book club meetings!)
To a certain extent, most of the characters are waiting for something (oftentimes, multiple things). Besides waiting for their men to come home, what else are Glory and Rita waiting for? How about some of the other characters? Do you feel the wait is worth it?
A few of the letters are marked Unsent. Why do you think the women decided not to send these particular letters? How would their stories change if they had? What do the unsent letters reveal about Glory and Rita's characters?
In Rita's final letter to Sal, she writes that Glory taught her "how to take the past and press it carefully onto the present." Discuss the importance of memories in the novel and how memories of the past impact the present action. How do they shape the characters and their actions, the decisions they make?
Unless otherwise stated, this discussion guide is reprinted with the permission of Mira.
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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