Reading guide for The Friend Who Got Away by Jenny Offill, Elissa Schappell

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

The Friend Who Got Away

by Jenny Offill, Elissa Schappell

The Friend Who Got Away by Jenny Offill, Elissa Schappell X
The Friend Who Got Away by Jenny Offill, Elissa Schappell
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    May 2005, 320 pages
    Paperback:
    May 2006, 320 pages

    Genres

  • Rate this book


Buy This Book

About this Book

Reading Guide Questions Print Excerpt

Please be aware that this discussion guide will contain spoilers!

  1. The Friend Who Got Away's epigraph comes from Virginia Woolf who wrote a great deal about the intricacies of human relationships. What does she seem to be saying about the nature of friendship?

  2. Why do we assume friendships should be "sturdier" than romantic relationships? What expectations do we bring to a friendship that we don't bring to a romance? Are these realistic? Why or why not?

  3. Most of the friendships in the book center on the relationships between women. Could the same book have been written about friendships between men? Are these friendships built on similar or different foundations? Is one more enduring than the other?

  4. One of the premises of the book is that these stories about lost friends are incredibly common yet seldom revealed. Why do you think such secrecy surrounds this issue? Is there shame involved when a friendship fails?

  5. Many of the writers in this anthology speak to the difficulty of unraveling what led to the demise of their friendships. Why is it so difficult to assess blame and responsibility in these situations? Which essays most clearly address this problem of culpability?

  6. In the paired essays "Heather" and "Emily" we get a rare glimpse of the story of a friendship breakup from both points of views. In the other essays, were you able to imagine the absent friend's side of the story as well? Did you ever find yourself empathizing more with the lost friend than the author?

  7. In Emily White's "Shelter" and Ann Hood's "How I Lost Her", we never learn why the friends disappear so abruptly. Imagine their side of the story.

  8. Jenny Offill's "End Days" and Elissa Schappell's "You'll Be Alright" both describe unlikely friendships. Why might such a friendship be a source of comfort? Jennifer Gilmore's "The Kindness of Strangers" goes even further to suggest that sometimes strangers are able to provide more solace in times of crisis than old friends. Why might this be the case?

  9. The old saying "Neither a borrower nor a lender be" seems to apply to the friendship Mary Morris describes in "The Other Face". How does money affect the power dynamic in a relationship? Do you agree with Morris' choice not to return the painting? Why do you think her friend didn't cash the checks?

  10. Kate Bernheimer's essay explores the pain and isolation that she felt when her friends were able to bear children and she was not. Why might fertility or the lack thereof be a divisive issue among women?

  11. This anthology captures a range of friendships that span from childhood to old age. How have your friendships changed over the years? Was there a "golden age" of friendship?

  12. What role does friendship play in your life now? Are your friendships as high a priority as they once were? In your own life do you have "a friend who got away" or a friend you now realize you should have cut loose? Describe what happened.


Unless otherwise stated, this discussion guide is reprinted with the permission of Broadway 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" articles
  • 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 $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year.
  • More about membership!

Join BookBrowse

Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten.

Find out more


Today's Top Picks

  • Book Jacket: African Europeans
    African Europeans
    by Olivette Otele
    The nexus of Africans and Europeans is not a recent historical development. Rather, the peoples of ...
  • Book Jacket: The Killing Hills
    The Killing Hills
    by Chris Offutt
    The personified hills of the novel's title foreshadow the mood of this brooding and ominous tale. ...
  • Book Jacket: The Vixen
    The Vixen
    by Francine Prose
    Recent Harvard graduate Simon Putnam has been rejected from grad school and has thus returned to his...
  • Book Jacket: How the Word Is Passed
    How the Word Is Passed
    by Clint Smith
    With legislatures around the U.S. rushing to ban the teaching of critical race theory, it's clear ...

Book Club Discussion
Book Jacket
All the Little Hopes
by Leah Weiss
A Southern story of friendship forged by books and bees, in the murky shadows of World War II.

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    The Forest of Vanishing Stars
    by Kristin Harmel

    An evocative coming-of-age World War II story from the author of The Book of Lost Names.

  • Book Jacket

    The Temple House Vanishing
    by Rachel Donohue

    A modern gothic page-turner set in a Victorian mansion in Ireland.

Win This Book!
Win Gordo

Gordo by Jaime Cortez

"Dark and hilarious ... singular and soaring ... Hands down, top debut of 2021."—Literary Hub

Enter

Wordplay

Solve this clue:

N Say N

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

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

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.