Reading guide for The Turnout by Megan Abbott

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The Turnout

by Megan Abbott

The Turnout by Megan Abbott X
The Turnout by Megan Abbott
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  • First Published:
    Aug 2021, 352 pages

    Paperback:
    May 2022, 368 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Maria Katsulos
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Reading Guide Questions Print Excerpt

Please be aware that this discussion guide will contain spoilers!

  1. In The Turnout, sisters Dara and Marie were home-schooled and raised in the ballet studio run by their mother. In what ways did the sisters have an atypical upbringing? How did their mother, and the rigorous structure of ballet training, influence them? How did Dara and Marie individually internalize this influence, and how do their differences manifest in adulthood? Are they so different after all?
  2. Dara, Marie, and Charlie, Dara's husband, are a tightly enmeshed trio. Discuss both the personal and professional dynamics among them. What accounts for their closeness? In what way do their bonds transcend traditional sibling and sibling-in-law relationships?
  3. Resistance to change is a big theme in this novel. Why do you think Dara, Marie, and Charlie are so insistent on maintaining the status quo? What are some things that come into their lives that disrupt that? Would these changes have happened without the introduction of Derek?
  4. Ballet is often considered incredibly glamorous, but the behind-the-scenes look at the Durant School of Dance shows a very different side to the art form. Were you surprised, or not surprised, by anything in the studio or with the students and the practice of ballet? Do you think these rigors are specific to ballet?
  5. Talk about the Durant house. What are some of its characteristics? In what ways did you see it come to embody elements of the story?
  6. Marie becomes infatuated with Derek, the contractor. Why do you think she is so drawn to him, and why does he hold such power over her? Were you surprised by their relationship? Discuss how his invasion of the studio space impacts all three members of the trio.
  7. Neither Dara nor Marie has any children of her own, but both play a big role in the lives of their young students. How does each of the sisters navigate this type of relationship differently, and how much do their childhood experiences inform how they act as adult mentors?
  8. A shocking act of violence occurs toward the end of The Turnout. Were you surprised by what happened? Did you see any signs leading up to the event?
  9. The Nutcracker is one of the most famous ballets of all time, in spite of its relatively dark subject matter. What do you think of when you think of The Nutcracker? How do themes from the ballet show themselves in The Turnout?
  10. What do you think is next for Dara, Marie, and Charlie?


Unless otherwise stated, this discussion guide is reprinted with the permission of G.P. Putnam's Sons. 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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