Reading guide for Family and Other Accidents by Shari Goldhagen

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Family and Other Accidents

by Shari Goldhagen

Family and Other Accidents by Shari Goldhagen
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  • First Published:
    Apr 2006, 272 pages
    Paperback:
    Apr 2006, 272 pages

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Reading Guide Questions Print Excerpt

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!

  1. What do you imagine the relationship between Connor and Jack was like when both of their parents were alive? What about when only their mother was alive?
  2. What does this title mean? What "accidents" happen, and do you agree that they are accidents? Or are Jack and Connor fully in control of their destinies regardless of their pasts?
  3. Where do you think the climax of the novel occurs and why? Do Jack and Connor ever reach any understandings about each other? If so, what might some of those understandings be?
  4. What motivates Jack's and Connor's infidelities? Are those motivations the same or different?
  5. What effect does the irregular passage of time between chapters have on the plot? Why did the author write it this way instead of in a straightforward, linear way? Similarly, what effect do the multiple narrators have on the movement of the plot?
  6. Jack and Connor view themselves as very different people, but in what ways are they more similar than they think? In what ways are they truly different?
  7. By the end of the novel, Jack and Connor have one son and two daughters, respectively. In what ways does the next generation of Reeds carry on the family traditions and the characteristics of their parents?
  8. The author gives Mona, Laine, and Kathy the opportunity to narrate chapters and give their perspectives. How do the narrative, plot, and perspectives differ from Jack's and Connor's when the women are given the narrative power?
  9. How do you think that Mona and Laine feel about each other? About the other's marriage?
  10. What changes Jorie's perspective at the end of the novel? Is it just fear or a genuine maturing? Can you speculate on what happens in each of the other characters' lives after the last page of the novel?

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.

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