1. I found this novel to be very carefully written, a tapestry of haves and have-nots, friendship and betrayal, and mundane life punctuated by extraordinary events: essentially a study in contrasts. Did you notice any contrasts in the first chapter, and if so, what did you see?
2. Alice has an unusually close bond with her grandmother, whose love of reading made her “entertaining” to her daughter-in-law and granddaughter. Alice’s mom was content cooking and cleaning and living a calm, quiet life. Which of these two women would you say influenced Alice’s life more?
3. Was Alice’s reaction to the scene between her grandmother and Dr. Wycomb more about herself or about her grandmother? How do you think you would have reacted at that age? Would you have told your parents?
4. “Fools names and fools faces often appear in public places.” Alice’s dad loves to use that quote to mean, Keep a low profile – don’t attract too much fuss to yourself. I’ve never heard that expression before reading this book. Are there any expressions your parents used frequently?
5. Alice tried to set things right by her visits to Andrew Imhof’s brother, Pete. Do you think he was deliberately trying to take advantage of her?
6. Alice said she felt “grim relief” at JFK’s death because a tragedy had occurred that was of a greater magnitude than her own. She carried the guilt over feeling nothing but relief over JFK’s death her entire life. Do you think an older person would have been better equipped to handle the emotions of the accident?