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The Remedy

Book #3 of Program

About The Book

A teen who’s taken on so many identities she’s not sure who she is anymore stumbles across a secret with devastating implications in this riveting third book in Suzanne Young’s New York Times bestselling Program series—now with a reimagined look.

In a world before The Program…

Quinlan McKee is a closer. Since the age of seven, Quinn has held the responsibility of providing closure to grieving families with a special skill—she can “become” anyone.

Recommended by grief counselors, Quinn is hired by families to take on the short-term role of a deceased loved one between the ages of fifteen and twenty. She’s not an exact copy, of course, but she wears their clothes and changes her hair, studies them through pictures and videos, and soon, Quinn can act like them, smell like them…be them. But to do her job successfully, she can’t get attached.

Now seventeen, Quinn is deft at recreating herself, sometimes confusing her own past with those of the people she’s portrayed. When she’s given her longest assignment, playing the role of Catalina Barnes, Quinn begins to bond with the deceased girl’s boyfriend. But that’s only the first of many complications, especially when Quinn finds out the truth about Catalina’s death. And the epidemic it could start.


IT’S TIME TO SAY GOOD-BYE. I sit in the armchair closest to the door and fold my hands politely in my lap. The room is too warm. Too quiet. My mother enters from the kitchen, her left eye swollen and bruised, small scratches carved into her cheeks. She limps to the plaid sofa, waving off help when I offer, and eases onto the patterned cushion next to my father. I shoot him an uncomfortable glance, but he doesn’t lift his head; tears drip onto his gray slacks, and I turn away.

I begin to gnaw on the inside of my lower lip, waiting in silence as they consider their words. This intervention-style farewell is hardly the format I imagined, but the moment belongs to them, so I don’t interfere. I cast a longing look to where my worn backpack waits near the door. Aaron had better not be late picking me up this time.

“Are you sure you can’t stay another night?” my father asks, gripping his wife’s hand hard enough to turn his knuckles white. They both stare at me pleadingly, but I don’t give them false hope. I won’t be that cruel.

“Sorry, but no,” I say kindly. “This is where we say good-bye.”

My mother pulls her hand from my father’s, curling it into a fist at her mouth. She chokes back a sob, and I watch as the stitched wound on her cheek crinkles her skin.

I reach for my own tears, trying to appear sympathetic. You’ll never see your parents again, I think. Isn’t that sad? But all I can muster is a bit of blurry vision. It seems a little heartless, even to me, that I can’t mourn their loss. But I’ve only known these people for two days. Besides, the clips on my hair extensions are driving my scalp mad. I reach a fingernail in between my red strands and scratch.

My mother takes a deep breath and then begins her rehearsed good-bye. “Emily,” she says in a shaky voice. “When you died, my life ended too.” A tear rolls slowly down her cheek, slipping into her dimple before falling away. “I couldn’t see beyond my grief,” she continues. “The counselors told me I had to, but I could only replay those last minutes in the car. This horrible loop of pain—” She chokes up, and my father reaches to rub her back soothingly. I don’t interrupt. “And then you were gone,” my mother whispers, looking at me. “I loved you more than anything, but you were torn away. I tried . . . I tried so hard, but I couldn’t save you. I’m sorry, Emily.”

I’m a barely passable version of Emily—different eyes, smaller chin. But my mother is grieving, and through her tears I’m sure she thinks I look identical to her dead daughter. And maybe that resemblance pains her even more when we’re this close.

“I love you too, Mom,” I say automatically, and flick my gaze to my father. “And thank you, Dad, for all you’ve done for me. I was very happy. No matter what, I’ll always be with you”—I put my hand on my chest—“in your hearts.”

The words are dry in my mouth, but I stick to the script when I can’t personalize my speech in some other way. Ultimately, this is what they wanted to hear—or rather, what they needed to hear to have closure. They wanted me to know I was loved.

My phone buzzes in my pocket, but I don’t ruin the moment to check it. We’re past deadline and it has grown dark outside, but I won’t leave until I’m sure my parents will get through this. I wait a beat, and my mother sniffles and wipes her face with her palms.

“I miss you, Emily,” she says, and her voice cracks over my name. “I miss you every day.” The first tears prick my eyes, the honesty in her emotions penetrating the wall I’ve carefully built. I smile at her, hoping it lessens her ache.

“I know you loved me,” I say, going off script. “But, Mom . . . this wasn’t your fault. It was an accident—a terrible, tragic accident. Please don’t blame yourself anymore. I forgive you.”

My mother claps both hands over her mouth, relief hemorrhaging as her shoulders shake with her sobs. This is it—her closure. She needed relief from her guilt. My father climbs to his feet and motions toward the door. I stand to follow him, but pause and look back at my mother.

“I’m safe now,” I continue. “Nothing can ever hurt me again. Not one thing.” I turn to leave the room, my voice barely audible over her cries. “Good-bye, Mom.”

My assignment is complete.

I follow my father to the front door, and when we reach the entryway, I rummage through the shredded middle pocket of my backpack and pull out a sweatshirt. I yank the Rolling Stones T-shirt off over my tank top and hand it to my dad . . . or, rather, Alan Pinnacle.

For the past two days, I’ve been wearing his daughter’s favorite clothes, eating her favorite foods, sleeping in her bed. I’m the Goldilocks the bears took in to replace the one they lost, even if it was only to say good-bye.

Alan looks down at Emily’s black shirt and pushes it in my direction. “Keep it,” he says, staring at the fabric like it’s precious. I widen my eyes and take a step back.

“But it’s not mine,” I say quietly. “It belonged to your daughter.” Sometimes parents become confused, and part of my job is to keep them grounded in reality. Martha sits on the couch, staring toward the window with a calmed expression, but I worry that Alan is having an emotional breakdown.

“You’re right,” he says sadly. “But Emily isn’t coming home.” He holds up the shirt. “If this is still being worn, in a way, her spirit will be out there. She’ll still be part of the world.”

“I really shouldn’t,” I say, although if I’m honest, that T-shirt was my favorite part of this assignment. But we’re not supposed to keep artifacts of the dead. It opens up the possibility of lawsuits against the entire grief department, claims of unprofessionalism.

“Please,” he murmurs. “I think she would have really liked you.”

It’s just a shirt, I think. No one’s ever been fired over a shirt. I reluctantly take the fabric from his hand, and Alan’s face twists in a flash of pain. Impulsively, I lean in and kiss his cheek.

“Emily was a lucky girl,” I whisper close to his ear. And then, without waiting to see his expression, I turn and walk out of Emily Pinnacle’s house.

* * *

The night air is heavy with moisture as I step onto the wooden slats of the front porch; cool rainy wind blows against my face. The headlights of a car parked down the road flick on, and my muscles relax. I’m glad I won’t be hanging around for a ride; Aaron usually sucks at being on time. I reach into my hair and begin to remove the extensions, unclipping them and then shoving them into the bag on my shoulder, where I stuffed the Rolling Stones T-shirt.

The car pulls up, and I hold my backpack over my head to protect myself from the rain. I throw one more glance toward the house, glad neither parent is looking out the window. I hate to break the illusion for them; it’s like seeing a teacher at the grocery store or a theme-park character without its oversize head.

I open the car door and drop onto the passenger seat of a shiny black Cadillac. It reeks of leather and coconut air freshener. I turn sideways, lifting my eyebrows the minute I take in Aaron’s appearance. I pretend to check my nonexistent watch. “And who are you supposed to be?” I ask.

Aaron smiles. “I’m me again,” he says. “It was a long drive. I didn’t have time to change clothes.”

This was one of those rare moments where Aaron and I were on assignment at the same time—a mostly avoided conflict. It was probably a good thing that I was running late tonight. I scan my friend’s outfit, holding back the laugh waiting in my gut. He’s wearing a dark brown corduroy jacket with a striped button-down shirt underneath. Although Aaron’s barely nineteen, he’s dressed like an eighty-year-old professor. Sensing my impending reaction, he steps on the gas pedal and speeds us down the street.

“Twenty-three-year-old law student,” he explains, turning up the volume on the stereo. “But his real love was math.” He shoots me a pointed look as if it sums up his assignment completely. “The counselors are really pushing my age, right?” he asks. “Must be this sweet beard.” He strokes his facial hair and I scrunch up my nose.

“Gross,” I say. “You’re lucky Oregon celebrates its facial hair; otherwise you’d be out of work.” Aaron’s smooth, dark skin disappears every No Shave November, but that ended five months ago. I’m partners with a Sasquatch. “When are you getting rid of that thing?” I ask.

“Um, never,” he says, like it’s the obvious answer. “I’m looking fine, girl.”

I laugh and flip down the passenger-side mirror. The light clicks on, harsh on my heavy makeup. I comb my fingers through my still-red shoulder-length strands. Emily’s hair was ridiculously long, so I had to wear itchy extensions.

“Too bad,” Aaron says, motioning to my reflection. “I liked your hair long.”

“And I like that special blazer. You sure you can’t keep it?”

“Point made,” he concedes. We’re quiet for a moment until Aaron clears his throat. “So how was it?” he asks in a therapist’s voice, even though he knows I hate talking about my assignments. “You were super vague on the phone,” he adds. “I was getting worried.”

“It was the same,” I answer. “Just like always.”

“Was it the mom?”

“Yeah,” I tell him, and look out the passenger window. “Survivor’s guilt. There was a car accident; the mother was driving. After arriving at the hospital, the mom ran from room to room, searching for her daughter. But she was DOA.” I swallow hard, burying the emotions that threaten to shake my voice. “All the mother wanted was to apologize for losing control of the car,” I continue. “Beg her daughter for forgiveness. Tell her how much she loved her. But she never got the chance. She didn’t even get to say good-bye. Martha had a hard time accepting that.”

“Martha?” Aaron repeats, and I feel him look at me. “You two on a first-name basis?”

“No,” I say. “But I’m not calling her Mom anymore, and it seems cold to call her Mrs. Pinnacle.” When I turn to Aaron, he looks doubtful. “What?” I ask. “The woman washed my underwear. It’s not like we’re strangers.”

“See, that’s the thing,” he says, holding up his finger. “You are strangers. You were temporarily playing the role of her deceased daughter, but by no means are you friends. Don’t blur the lines, Quinn.”

“I know how to do my job,” I answer dismissively. My heart beats faster.

Although all closers take on the personality of the dead person, I’m the only one who internalizes it, thinks like them. It makes me more authentic, and honestly, it’s why I’m the best. “Don’t be judgy,” I tell Aaron. “You have your process; I have mine. I’m completely detached when it’s over.”

Aaron chuckles. “You’re detached?” he asks. “Then why do you keep souvenirs?”

“I do not,” I respond, heat crawling onto my cheeks.

“I bet you have more than hair extensions in that bag.”

I look down to see the edge of the T-shirt peeking out. “Not fair,” I say. “The dad gave that to me. It doesn’t count.”

“And the earrings from Susan Bell? The flashy yet clashy belt from Audrey Whatshername? Admit it. You’re a life klepto. You keep pieces of them like some whacked-out serial killer.”

I laugh. “It’s nothing like that.”

Aaron hums out his disagreement and takes a turn onto the freeway. It’ll be at least forty-five minutes until we’re back in Corvallis. I hate the away assignments, but our town is fairly small, and we don’t have nearly as many deaths as Eugene or Portland. But being away can mess with your head. Nothing’s familiar—not the places or the people. A person could forget who they really are in a situation like that. It’s high risk, and the return is always more difficult after being cut off completely. But it’s our job.

Aaron Rios and I are closers—a remedy for grief-stricken families. We help clients who are experiencing symptoms of complicated grief through an extreme method of role-playing therapy. When a family or person experiences loss—the kind of loss they just can’t get over, the kind that eats away at their sanity—grief counselors make a recommendation. For an undisclosed sum of money, clients are given a closer to play the part of a dead person and provide them the much-needed closure they desire.

At this point I can become anyone so long as they’re a white female between the ages of fifteen and twenty. I’m not an exact copy, of course, but I wear their clothes and change my hair and eye color. I study them through pictures and videos, and soon I can act like them, smell like them, be them for all intents and purposes. And when a family is hazy with grief, they tend to accept me readily.

I stay with them for a few days, but never more than a week. In that time, my loved ones get to say everything they needed to but never got the chance to, get to hear whatever they’ve told the counselors they needed to hear. I can be the perfect daughter. I can give them closure so they can heal.

I’m saving lives—even if sometimes it’s hard to remember which one is mine.

“So what have I missed?” I ask Aaron. When he called me earlier to set up my extraction, he tried to talk, to reconnect me to the outside world. But I was with the family when my phone buzzed, so I fed Aaron some bullshit excuse to get off the line. Now I’m desperate for a reminder of my real life. I rest my temple on the headrest and watch him.

“Not much.” He shrugs. “Deacon’s been texting me nonstop. Says you’re not answering your phone.”

“Well, he’s not supposed to contact me, is he?” I point out. Our guidelines state that we only consort with our partners or our advisors while on assignment—it keeps us from breaking character. But the fact is, I could have responded to Deacon’s texts. I just didn’t want to.

My eyes start to sting and I check around the front seat and find a bag of open trail mix stuffed into the cutout below the stereo; salty-looking peanuts have spilled into the cup holder. My father will kill Aaron for bringing those in here. And for dirtying up his Cadillac. We always use the same car for extractions. It serves as a reminder of our real life, something familiar to bring us home.

I hike my backpack onto my lap and start rummaging through until I find the case for my colored contacts. Although I’m not deathly allergic to nuts, they irritate my eyes and make my throat burn. Aaron’s usually pretty good about not eating them around me. I guess he forgot this time—which is understandable. Assignments tend to leave us confused. At least for a while.

“I think Deacon’s worried you’ll run away without telling him,” Aaron continues. “It makes him crazy.”

“Deacon never worries about anything,” I correct, resting my index finger on my pupil until I feel the contact cling to it. “And I don’t know why he’s asking you. If I planned to run away, you wouldn’t know either.” I remove the film and place it back inside the case before working on the other eye.

“Yeah, well, he worries about you,” Aaron mutters, clicking the windshield wipers off now that the rain has eased up. “And whether you admit it or not,” he adds, “you worry about his ass all the time too.”

“We’re friends,” I remind him, reliving the conversation we’ve had a dozen times. “Just very good friends.”

“Whatever, Quinn,” he says. “You’re hard-core and he’s badass. I get it. You’re both too tough for love.”

“Shut up.” I laugh. “You’re just mad we get along better than you and your girlfriend.”

“Damn right,” Aaron says with a defiant smirk. “It ain’t cool. You two—”

“Stooooop,” I whine, cutting him off. “Change the subject. Deacon and I are broken up. End of story.” I stuff my contacts case back into my bag and drop it down by my feet. The traffic has faded from the freeway, leaving the dark road empty around us.

“I’m not saying you should hate each other,” Aaron continues. “But you shouldn’t want to bone every time you see him either.”

“You have serious problems, you know that, right?”

“Mm-hmm,” he says, nodding dismissively. “Yeah, I’m the one with problems.” He whistles out a low sound of sympathy, looking sideways at me. “You’ve both got it bad,” he adds.

“No,” I tell him. “We’re both better off. Remind Deacon of that next time he’s checking up on me.” Aaron scoffs and swears he’s staying out of it. He won’t, of course. He thinks we’re still pining for each other. And . . . he may not be entirely wrong. But Deacon and I have a very platonic understanding.

Deacon Hatcher is my ex-boyfriend turned best friend, but more important, he used to be a closer. He gets it. Gets me. Deacon was my partner before Aaron, almost three years side by side until he quit working for my dad eight months ago. He quit me the same day. The breakup may have wrecked me a little. Or a lot. Deacon and I had shared everything, had a policy of total honesty, which isn’t exactly easy for people in our line of work.

I hadn’t even known he’d ended his contract with the grief department when he told me we were over, said he’d moved on. I assumed he meant with another girl, so we didn’t speak for over a month. I’d been blindsided, betrayed. Only thing left for me was closure, and I was damn good at it. I absorbed more of my assignments’ lives, their families’ love. I rebuilt my self-esteem with their help, their memories. Then my father assigned Aaron as my new partner.

The next day, Deacon showed up at my front door, saying how sorry he was. Saying how desperately he missed me. I believed him. I always believe him. But every time we get close—the very minute I fall for him again—Deacon cuts me off, backs away, and leaves me brokenhearted by the absence of his affection. Whether it’s his training or his natural disposition, Deacon is charming. The kind of charming that makes you feel like you’re the only person in the world who matters. Until you don’t anymore.

I’m tired of the push and pull that continues to crack and heal over the same scar. I told Deacon that I was done letting myself be vulnerable to him, that he was ruining me. The thought seemed to devastate him. So Deacon and I agreed not to get back together, but acknowledged that we couldn’t stay away from each other either. Best friends is the compromise. It lets us go to the very edge of our want without actually going over. And that works for us. We’re totally screwed up that way.

From the center console Aaron’s phone vibrates in the cup holder. He quickly grabs it before I do, and rests it against the wheel while he reads the text. After a moment he clicks off the screen and drops his phone back into the cup holder. “Myra says hello,” he says, glancing over. “She’s super excited for you to be back.”

“I’m sure,” I say, flashing him an amused smile. Aaron’s girlfriend is barely five feet tall, with wide doelike eyes and a red-hot temper. She used to hate me—which, under normal circumstances, could be understandable. I spend a lot of time with her boyfriend. We’re over it now, and the entire situation became a running joke between me and Aaron. And although Myra might still hate me a little, she’s one of my closest friends. But everything will change soon. This is Aaron’s last month as a closer—his contract ends in four weeks. After that, he and Myra are going to run off and live some deranged life in one of the Dakotas.

“Any chance I can talk you into dropping me off at home first?” I ask Aaron in a sickly sweet voice. “I’ve been dreaming about my bed for the entire weekend. Emily had a futon.”

Aaron whistles in sympathy. “Sounds tough, Quinn. But I already called Marie to let her know we’re on our way.” He smiles. “And you know how much she loves late-night debriefings.”

False. Marie absolutely hates when we come by after dark.

I exhale, dreading our next stop. I just want to go home, tell my dad good night, and then crash in my bed. Unfortunately, none of that can happen until we register our closure and confess our sins. Our advisor, Marie, has to interview us before we’re allowed to return to our regular lives. There are procedures in place to make sure we don’t take any grief home with us, take home the sadness. It’s the old saying: misery loves company. Yeah, well, grief can be contagious.

Reading Group Guide

A Reading Group Guide to

The Remedy

By Suzanne Young


Discussion Questions

1. From the very beginning of The Remedy, Quinn describes her job as a closer as “saving lives.” Discuss whose lives are at stake in this arrangement, and whose lives can/cannot be saved.

2. To help process their grief following an assignment, closers are encouraged to drink truth tea to stimulate honest reflection. Why is “forced” truth-telling necessary for this process? Why would closers lie? Do you suspect any ulterior motives behind the use of the tea?

3. Quinn describes returning from an assignment as feeling “like I’m an actor in my own life.” Later, Isaac concludes that the job of a closer is “a lot like pretending.” Have you ever felt like an actor in your own life? When? How did this make you feel? Is it ever okay to “pretend” in life?

4. The foyer in Quinn’s home is laced with reentry items to help her transition back into her own life following an assignment—photographs of her growing up, an old coat, etc. What items of yours ground you? Think about special artifacts in your life that represent you and describe their meaning.

5. We learn that teenagers are assigned journal writing in school to help them “identify [their] weaknesses, [and] point out flaws in [their] mental health so that [they] can work toward managing it.” Do you believe in the effectiveness of journaling for this purpose? Do you keep a journal? What kinds of things do you write about? Is it ever okay for someone else to read another person’s journal? Do the same rights to privacy apply to other forms of expression, like e-mail and social media? Is it ever justifiable for someone to log in to another person’s digital accounts? Describe how you felt about Quinn having access to Catalina’s accounts.

6. We learn from the interaction at Aaron’s house, where he, Myra, Quinn, Deacon, and Shelly (the girl Deacon brings along) are hanging out, that closers are not universally accepted by society. Shelly states, “You take advantage of people’s suffering . . . You take their money and lie to them, rewrite their lives. You’re disgusting.” Her sentiment is echoed by other peers throughout the book, including Catalina’s sister, Angie, and even her boyfriend, Isaac. Is there merit to these arguments? How would you support or refute them? What is your stance on closers?

7. Everyone who is close to Quinn in her real life is somehow affiliated with closers—not once does she mention a friend, family member, or even an acquaintance who is not, or has not been, part of the closure movement. Why is Quinn so isolated? How come she tells Isaac that she isn’t “loved”? Is it just because she is a closer? How does this isolation influence her as a person?

8. Quinn references the “person-centered” approach to the closure movement, and how a closer’s “role play frees up [clients’] minds to heal. Like tricking your brain out of its grief. People think it’s a broken heart that hurts; maybe that sounds more romantic. But it’s the brain, and it can be fooled.” Do you agree with this reasoning? Which do you think governs emotions—the heart or the brain? Is closing more of a healing agent, or does it fall into the category of adding “salt to a wound”?

9. Quinn explains that, in closing, “I’ll target the painful memories and help the family overwrite them with positive ones.” Is it possible for one to manipulate memories? Can a person revise his/her own memories, or is this something that can only be done by someone else? Are memories ever tampered with by accident?

10. Quinn writes to Isaac, in a moment of uncharacteristic emotional overflow, “I have feelings, you know.” What about her dynamic with Isaac brought out these authentic emotions? Quinn knows, from extensive training, that she must keep her real self hidden during assignments. Why has she deviated during this particular assignment? What are the triggers?

11. Quinn claims she suffers from “lifesickness.” What does she mean by this? If the feelings she is experiencing are so obviously traumatic—why does she continue being a closer? What does Quinn get out of her experience as a closer? What does it provide her with that she doesn’t have in her own life? Why would Deacon suggest that in “helping” Isaac, Quinn was really “helping herself”?

12. As Quinn assumes the identity of Catalina, she speaks as if she is Catalina in her narration, referring to “my” boyfriend and “our” parents. How did the use of these pronouns, coming from Quinn, make you feel? Did they stand out to you, or did you barely notice?

13. When Quinn feels sorry for Catalina’s family, are her feelings her own, or is she simply channeling what Catalina would feel? What about her overwhelming attraction toward Isaac—is that coming from her, or “Catalina”? What is the difference?

14. Quinn is extremely invested in unraveling the mystery of Catalina’s death, going to such lengths as showing up at the Warehouse uninvited. What’s driving her compulsion to find answers—her professional responsibility as a closer or personal curiosity?

15. Quinn asks Deacon if her appearance at the Warehouse is unethical, to which he responds, “Sometimes the ends justify the means . . . And those times, we have to be the ones to decide what’s worth losing.” Do you think Quinn’s behavior, in this circumstance, is ethical? Has she demonstrated unethical behavior during other times in The Remedy? Have you ever done something based on the reasoning that the end justifies the means?

16. When Quinn resists Deacon, and she knows she’s hurt his feelings, she compares it to an “inoculation.” Describe this analogy and then discuss instances from your life in which it has applied to something you’ve said or done.

17. Quinn thinks she loved Deacon, expressing, “We held each other’s identities in our hands. I gave him everything of myself, and for a while I thought he did the same.” She continues, “You can’t be in love with someone who doesn’t feel the same way. That’s not real love.” Is this an accurate depiction of love? Is a shared identity necessary, or even natural, in love? How does this particular characterization of love make you feel, now that you know the deeper truth behind Quinn and Deacon’s relationship?

18. Quinn experiences relationships with both Deacon and Isaac. Compare and contrast Deacon’s and Isaac’s characters. Then, compare and contrast Quinn and Catalina. Are there any similarities, or overlaps, in the relationships they share? How might Quinn’s relationship with Deacon influence her relationship with Isaac? How might Isaac’s relationship with Catalina influence his relationship with Quinn?

19. Isaac’s friends ultimately stage an intervention to encourage him to sever ties with Catalina’s closer and accept her death. Was this the right thing to do? What would you have done if you were one of Isaac’s friends?

20. Explain Quinn’s revelation: “Now I know what [people are] afraid of. People don’t want to be replaced. They don’t want a stranger to come in and seamlessly take over their lives. What was the point of them ever existing if I could come in and wrap it up in a few days?” How did she come to this conclusion? Do you agree with what she’s suggesting? Can you relate to the fear to which she alludes?

21. When Quinn breaks down at the Barneses’ home following the intervention, she describes being “struck with a weird sense of déjà vu. ‘Quinlin Mckee,’ I say out loud to the room, as if arguing with myself. The name is a shock to my system, a cold slap in the face.” What was the root of this panic? Later, Catalina’s father asks Quinn what her name is, to which he replied, “That’s a pretty name.” Why was that the first question he asks her, once Quinn’s assignment has ended? What is the importance of a name? How much do our names define us? Do you see any particular, perhaps hidden, significance in the names of the characters in The Remedy?

22. While Quinn feels that her failures in the Catalina Barnes closure case were her fault, Deacon insists, “This is all on [her] father.” Who is ultimately responsible for the success and failure of closers—the closers themselves or the adults who manage them?

23. Deacon pleads with Quinn to quit her job as a closer. Does he have a right to ask this of her? What are his motivations? Knowing what you know now, are his intentions sincere, or part of a greater, calculated plan?

24. When Quinn leaves Deacon to return to her closure assignment with the Barnes family, she tells herself, “I’ll leave this baggage here, stow it while I finish the job.” What exactly is her baggage? Do you think it’s ever necessary—or even possible—for someone to control when his/her “baggage” comes to the surface? Can you ever bury “baggage” for good?

25. Quinn tells Angie that her job as a closer is to be an “empty vessel for your emotions,” and then speaks of absorbing Isaac’s guilt. What does she mean by this?How can this be helpful to those who are suffering? When is it possible, or fair, for a person to take on this kind of role?

26. Despite all the anguish she experiences, has Quinn’s role as a closer, especially in the Catalina Barnes assignment, been at all positive? What has Quinn learned about life, and about herself? How has she grown?

27. How did you react to the truth about Quinn’s life and her upbringing? Were you surprised? Refute and defend her father’s arguments for raising her the way he did. What was harmful about this arrangement and might actually have seemed fair, or even positive?

28. Explore the nature vs. nurture theories of child development, using Quinn’s life as a case study. Is a child’s personality more affected by his/her genes or how he/she was raised? Do you believe that nature decides what kind of person we become, or is it more the way our family has nurtured us?

29. React to the epilogue in The Remedy, “Eight Months Earlier.” How does this chapter affect your understanding of the novel?

30. Assess Quinn and Deacon’s relationship. Are they good for each other? What about them is real? Was their love ever real? Will it ever be real again?

31. The Remedy ends on a cliffhanger—what will happen next? How will Quinn confront Dr. Pritchard's daughter? How will Quinn affect the future of the Remedy? The Program?


32. When does The Remedy take place, with respect to The Program and The Treatment? What is happening in the lives of the characters in The Program and The Treatment during this time period? How does the picture painted of Dr. Pritchard in The Remedy affect how you see him as a whole? Do the scenarios in The Remedy change your views on, or your understanding of, The Program?



Guide written by Catharine Prodromou, a Lead Teacher at the Alta Vista School in San Francisco, CA.

This guide has been provided by Simon & Schuster for classroom, library, and reading group use. It may be reproduced in its entirety or excerpted for these purposes.





About The Author

Photo credit Dawn Goei

Suzanne Young is the New York Times bestselling author of The Program series. Originally from Utica, New York, Suzanne moved to Arizona to pursue her dream of not freezing to death. She is a novelist and an English teacher, but not always in that order. Suzanne is also the author of Girls with Sharp SticksAll in PiecesHotel for the Lost, and several other novels for teens. Visit her online at or follow her on Instagram at @AuthorSuzanneYoung.

Product Details

  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers (November 14, 2023)
  • Length: 416 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781665941938
  • Grades: 9 and up
  • Ages: 14 - 99

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Awards and Honors

  • ILA Young Adults' Choices
  • Kansas NEA Reading Circle List High School Title

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