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Back When We Were Grownups (Ballantine Reader's Circle)by Anne Tyler
Reading Group Guide
1. "How on earth did I get like this?" wonders Rebecca at the start
of the novel about the person she has become. Have you ever
had a moment like this? Did you end up with the life you
thought you would have?
2. While many people thing longingly of the road not traveled,
Rebecca decides to take it. Is this a good idea? If you were going
to do so, what steps would you have to take?
3. Do you think that Rebecca would have stayed with Will if she
had not met Joe?
4. Rebecca suggests to NoNo that "all of us love people at least
partly for their usefulness." Do you agree?
5. Do you think Min Foo is going to discard Hakim as she has her
6. Rebecca reflects that marriage leads to "knowing more than
you should about the other person." Do you agree?
7. Tina's visit leads Rebecca to observe her life from the uncom
fortable perspective of an outsider. Have you ever had that
experience with a guest?
8.. Rebecca describes Tina, Joe's first wife, as "the distant, alluring
mystery woman whose edges had not been worn dull by the
constant minor abrasions of daily contact." What has Tina
gained and lost because of the distance she has placed between
herself and her daughters?
9. Rebecca watches NoNo change as she takes on parenthood. Dis
cuss how becoming a parent changes people and how it does not.
10. Rebecca and NoNo decide to take on instant parenthood.
What are the challenges and rewards of choosing such a path?
11. Rebecca wants to believe that there are grander motivations in
history than family and friends, but concludes that there are
not. Do you agree?
12. This novel explores the selective and faulty nature of memory.
How accurate do you think your own memories are? What do
you remember and what don't you remember?
13. Is the conditional and faulty nature of human memory a bless
ing or a curse?
14. Will reminds Rebecca that she wanted a big family with all of
its rituals, a fact Rebecca had forgotten about the girl she once
was. How could Rebecca have forgotten such an important
piece of information about herself?
15. Why is Will so determined to see Rebecca as she is not?
16. How do you think Poppy's memory of Rebecca's first birthday
party at Open Arms would compare with Rebecca's
17. Zeb never married. Do you think he has been waiting for
Rebecca all these years? What do you think will happen with
Rebecca and Zeb? Who will have to make the first move if this
relationship is ever to get off the ground?
18. Does Rebecca's family see her as a three-dimensional person by
the end of this novel?
19. How do you think each of Rebecca's daughters would describe
20. Which is your favorite character in this novel and why?
21. If you could ask the author one question about this novel, what
would you ask?
22. Why did your group choose this novel? Are you happy with
your choice? What book is up next?
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