Reading Guide Questions
Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
- The Hunt sisters, Olivia and Maddie, are very different from each other. As
you were reading, did you like one of the sisters better than the other? Which
of the Hunt sisters do you most identify with? How would you describe the
relationship between the sisters? Are Olivia and Maddie like any sisters you
- The story is told entirely in letters, all of them written by one
character. What did you enjoy about this form? How well did you get to know all
the novel's characters? Which letters are your favorites? In which do you
think Olivia is most revealing? most truthful?
- The epigraph suggests that hope is a kind of happiness. Do you think that's
true? Does Olivia believe that? How does her attitude about hope change? What
about Maddie's? Do you consider hope a delusion? Or a choice?
- Why does Olivia start writing to her ex-boyfriend Michael? Does she get
what she wantsor what she needs? Do you think Michael and Olivia belong
- Are there parallels between the themes in Don Quixote and in this novel?
Don Quixote's idealism ultimately inspires his cynical friend Sancho. Is
Maddie or Olivia most like Don Quixote? Does that change at different points in
- At various times, Olivia is forced to make sacrifices for work, love, and
family. Which is most important to her in the beginning . . . and at the end?
Which story line did you find most compelling?
- There are four couples in the book. Which couple's relationship did you
understand best? Is any of them similar to a relationship you've been in? What
does Olivia learn about relationships by observing other couples?
- Would you want the job of a Hollywood producer? What do you find
interesting or appealing about the job? Do you think Olivia will continue to
- Did you like having real celebrities interact with the novel's fictional
- What do you think of the portrayal of doctors in the novel? Olivia writes
some angry letters to doctors. Was she rightor just upset? Have you ever
written that kind of letter?
- Maddie's struggle with leukemia brings Olivia (and Maddie) face to face
with questions of faith. What does faith mean to Olivia? How do her beliefs
differ from Maddie's? Do they change in the course of the novel? Does Olivia
reach any conclusions about God? How did your own ideas about faith influence
your reactions to Olivia's and Maddie's questions?
Unless otherwise stated, this discussion guide is reprinted with the permission of Back Bay Books.
Any page references refer to a USA edition of the book, usually the trade paperback version, and may vary in other editions.