Reading guide for Only the Beautiful by Susan Meissner

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Only the Beautiful

by Susan Meissner

Only the Beautiful by Susan Meissner X
Only the Beautiful by Susan Meissner
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  • Published:
    Apr 2023, 400 pages


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Book Reviewed by:
Jordan Lynch
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Reading Guide Questions Print Excerpt

Please be aware that this discussion guide will contain spoilers!

  1. How are Rosie's and Helen's stories linked thematically? How are they separate?
  2. Rosie feels tremendous guilt over how she became pregnant. How much of what happened to her is her fault? Is any of it?
  3. Why do you think people often fear what they can't explain or don't understand?
  4. Was Rosie's mother asking too much of Rosie when she made her promise not to tell anyone about her ability?
  5. Why do you think Celine was so controlling? Did she have good qualities, too? Did Truman? What were his flaws? How do you feel about these two characters?
  6. Dr. Townsend tells Helen that Rosie's synesthesia made her life miserable. Did it? Do you know someone with synesthesia?
  7. Helen attributes her wanderlust to her deceased mother's unfulfilled wishes to travel, but why else might she have stayed away for four decades? Do you think she had a happy life as a nanny
  8. In chapter 35, Johannes tells Helen he assumes full responsibility for what happened to Brigitta, and yet Helen assures him they all failed her. What did she mean?
  9. Could Johannes have done more to save his daughter? What would you have done?
  10. Central to the story in Only the Beautiful is the recurring theme of complacency versus compliance. What is the difference, in your opinion? If you don't speak and act out against wrong, does that mean you are supporting it?
  11. Do you see eugenic ideology as it played out in Only the Beautiful in our world today? In what ways?

Unless otherwise stated, this discussion guide is reprinted with the permission of Berkley 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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