Readers Guide


1. Despite Gretchen’s father dying many years prior to the opening of the book, she still seems to be struggling with the impact of his death on her family. Her pregnancy sparks reflection, and creates an opportunity to connect her past with her present. In your experience, what other life events have this impact?


2. After Gretchen reveals that she has shoplifted, does your opinion of her change? If so, how?


3. Fredrik’s loyalty to his family riles Gretchen. Is she being reasonable, or does Gretchen need to accept that, for Fredrik, his family will always be a priority?


4. Meredith tries to provide a larger context for Gretchen around some of the challenges of balancing work and family. But Gretchen refuses to engage, focusing instead on her immediate situation. Should Gretchen care more about the cultural debate (and start reading all those articles)?


5.  By her own admission, Gretchen has “fallen” into her jobs. In contrast, Eliza appears very driven. What, if anything, could they learn from each other?


6. Dr. Mitchell is a source of great comfort to Gretchen—a welcome distraction, even—throughout her pregnancy. Does the gender of an obstetrician matter to you?


7. Should Gretchen have kept Louisa’s affair a secret from Fredrik? From Jason?


8. Gretchen and Louisa’s friendship is strong but also somewhat rooted in nostalgia. Is it possible to maintain friendships, even as life circumstances change?


9. Gretchen has very particular ideas about how things should look—anything from her shoes to the paint on the bathroom walls—and can become distressed if she perceives that something looks wrong, or is out of order. Is Gretchen “just” a perfectionist, or could have other factors contributed to her obsession with appearances?


10. Is it hypocritical for Gretchen to attend church when she has significant questions regarding her faith?


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