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

  • Rate this book


Buy This Book

About this Book

Reading Guide Questions Print Excerpt

Please be aware that this discussion guide may 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.


Book Club Report

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" backstories
  • 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 $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: In Extremis
    In Extremis
    by Lindsey Hilsum
    International journalist Marie Colvin pushed the limits in her work and her personal life. Widely ...
  • Book Jacket: Vita Nostra
    Vita Nostra
    by Marina and Sergey Dyachenko
    Vita Nostra by Ukrainian authors Sergey and Marina Dyachenko is one of those novels that defies ...
  • Book Jacket: And The Ocean Was Our Sky
    And The Ocean Was Our Sky
    by Patrick Ness
    Patrick Ness has developed a reputation for experimental literature executed well, and his latest, ...
  • Book Jacket: Let It Bang
    Let It Bang
    by RJ Young
    Every interracial love story is an exercise in complications. R.J. Young and Lizzie Stafford's ...

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
Unsheltered
by Barbara Kingsolver

A timely novel that explores the human capacity for resiliency and compassion.

About the book
Join the discussion!

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    Paris Echo
    by Sebastian Faulks

    A story of resistance, complicity, and an unlikely, transformative friendship.
    Reader Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    A Ladder to the Sky
    by John Boyne

    A seductive, unputdownable psychodrama following one brilliant, ruthless man.
    Reader Reviews

Win this book!
Win Severance

Severance by Ling Ma

An offbeat, wryly funny, apocalyptic satire that is featured on more than twenty 2018 "Must Read" lists!

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

I Ain't O U T F L S

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 books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.