This reading group guide for Who Do You Love includes discussion questions and ideas for enhancing your book club. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book. Topics & Questions for Discussion
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1. How did the novel’s prologue frame your reading experience? Who did you imagine had broken Rachel’s heart, and were you surprised when you ultimately learned who Brenda was?
2. “She hadn’t said goodbye to me. She hadn’t told me enough about what it was like, when you knew you weren’t going to get better. She hadn’t told me if it had hurt” (page 34). How does Alice influence Rachel, and how does this early loss shape her sense of self in the years to come? You might also discuss the symbolism of the Ouija board in this scene. How does this childhood game take on greater meaning for both Alice and Rachel?
3. Compare Rachel’s initial impression to Andy’s first memory of Lori, “his beautiful mom with her red-lipsticked mouth and her hair that fell in ripples down her back.” How does Andy’s perception of his mother change as he grows older, and what causes this shift? In what ways is Andy driven by how others perceive him, both for better and for worse?
4. While Andy is growing up, he sometimes worries that his mother “just [doesn’t] like him very much” (page 40). How do you feel the dynamics between Andy and Lori affect the other relationships in Andy’s life? Ultimately, how did you feel Lori’s parenting style positively served Andy—and in what ways did it hurt him?
5. Turn to page 69, where Nana and Rachel are discussing Mrs. Blum’s outburst during the bat mitzvah service. What do you think it means to be “a woman of valor,” and why do you think Nana reminds Rachel of this, and the line from Proverbs, at this particular moment? How does Rachel live up to this ideal and in what ways does she fall short over the course of the novel?
6. How did you initially perceive Bethie Botts? As a teenager, do you think you would have acted differently toward her than Rachel and Marissa did on the youth retreat? How did Andy’s treatment of Bethie in the scene on page 130 affect your perspective on each of the characters involved—including Andy himself—and who did you feel for most deeply here? What did you make of Rachel and Bethie’s (now Elizabeth) interaction at their high school reunion? Was there a Bethie in your life—and if so, what would you say to them now?
7. Rachel and Andy’s relationship evolves in starts and stops. What are the external factors that work against them? Compare and contrast how the expectations of others affect how Andy and Rachel see each other, as well as their own expectations of what a happily coupled life should look like. Consider the roles that both time and timing play in their relationship. How does timing pull them apart while time brings them back together?
8. 9/11 is a turning point in the novel, and of course, was a pivotal moment for the world. Like Andy and Rachel, is there someone you would feel compelled to reach out to during a similar kind of crisis? Why do you think most of us have that person in our past whose memory we can’t quite let go of, who we yearn to reach out to when disaster strikes, whether it’s personal or global? Where does that yearning come from—and under normal conditions, what stands in the way of acting on it?
9. Did you feel that Jay and Maisie were better matches for Rachel and Andy? Why or why not? What does the novel seem to say about the roles that compatibility, stability, and desire play in lasting relationships—and how does the notion of “opposites attract” play into this?
10. Mr. Sills proves to be a formative mentor for Andy, but in what ways does he fail him? How do you feel his last words of advice affect Andy’s choices later in the novel?
11. How does the novel illustrate the ways that we love differently at each stage of our lives? How do Andy and Rachel love each other—and those around them—differently over the course of the novel? Does their connection change or is it at its core still the same?
12. A recurring theme in Who Do You Love
is brokenness; the most obvious example is Rachel’s “broken heart.” Where else do we see how both Rachel and Andy are broken? Despite coming from very different backgrounds, each character is also struggling with self-identity throughout the novel. Compare and contrast the ways in which Andy and Rachel work to fix their brokenness by carving out their own identities—Andy’s focus and drive to achieve a singular goal, as opposed to Rachel’s sometimes messy and circuitous road toward career and family. Where do these two very different paths leave them, and are they still broken at the end of the novel? Ultimately, do you think they help each other heal, or do they heal themselves? Enhance Your Book Club
1. Andy starts running as a way to deal with his anger. Try going on a group run, or some other form of exercise, and see if you find similar stress relief. Follow up by discussing how exercise has functioned in your life, or other methods you use to deal with difficult emotions.
2. Visit Jennifer Weiner’s website at www.jenniferweiner.com to learn more about her and her books, and follow her on Twitter @jenniferweiner. Fans of The Bachelor
and The Bachelorette
: Be sure to tune in to her live tweets of the show on Monday nights and join the conversation!
3. Many of Jennifer Weiner’s novels feature destinations throughout Philadelphia, the city she calls home. Perhaps plan a trip through www.visitphilly.com to see some of the locations from this book—Rittenhouse Square and the Reading Terminal Market—and from her other book as well.