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Original Essays | September 18, 2014

Lin Enger: IMG Knowing vs. Knowing

On a hot July evening years ago, my Toyota Tercel overheated on a flat stretch of highway north of Cedar Rapids, Iowa. A steam geyser shot up from... Continue »
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    The High Divide

    Lin Enger 9781616203757

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1 Hawthorne Literature- A to Z
8 Local Warehouse Literature- A to Z

Back When We Were Grownups (Ballantine Reader's Circle)


Back When We Were Grownups (Ballantine Reader's Circle) Cover



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

other husbands?

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?

Product Details

Tyler, Anne
Mariner Books
Patchett, Ann
New York
Psychological fiction
Baltimore (Md.)
Domestic fiction
General Fiction
Literature-A to Z
Edition Description:
Trade Paper
Ballantine Reader's Circle
Series Volume:
Publication Date:
Grade Level:
8 x 5.31 in 1 lb

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Related Subjects

Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z
Fiction and Poetry » Romance » General
History and Social Science » American Studies » Popular Culture

Back When We Were Grownups (Ballantine Reader's Circle) Used Trade Paper
0 stars - 0 reviews
$3.95 In Stock
Product details 304 pages Ballantine Books - English 9780345446862 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Tyler also has a gift...for unfurling intricate stories effortlessly, as if by whimsy or accident." Publishers Weekly
"Review" by , "In her deeply moving and perfectly syncopated new novel, Pulitzer Prize winner Anne Tyler presents a stunning portrait of fifty-three-year-old Rebecca Davitch....There's not a flat line in this book, not a single simple character, not a moment that isn't tapped for all its glorious possibilities....This is storytelling at its best and most breathtaking. Tyler, an acknowledged master of the form, is living up to her well-earned reputation."
"Review" by , "This novel is a treasure, a jubilant look at a woman who embarks on a modern search for herself with style, grace, and, yes, celebration."
"Review" by , "One does not so much read a Tyler novel as visit it. Her ability to conduct several conversations at once while getting the food to the table turns the act of reading into a kind of transport....In a literary landscape that too often mistakes sarcasm for humor and self-reference for irony, an Anne Tyler novel, brimming with the real thing, calls for a toast."
"Review" by , "Packed with life in all its humdrum complexity — and funny, so funny, the kind that compels reading aloud. A masterful effort from one of our very best."
"Review" by , "Wise, kind, rueful and clear-eyed...and her truths are as gritty as earth and as interesting as the world."
"Review" by , "Her feel for character is so keen that even hardened metafictionalists [who] would happily fry the whole notion of ?character? for breakfast are reduced to the role of helpless gossips, swapping avid hunches about the possible fates of the characters."
"Synopsis" by , The Pulitzer Prize-winning author's #1 national bestseller, now in paperback, is a tender novel about aging, marriage, friendship, motherhood...and one extraordinary woman living an ordinary life.
"Synopsis" by , Since her first publication in 1992, celebrated novelist Ann Patchett has crafted a number of elegant novels, garnering accolades and awards along the way. Now comes a reissue of the best-selling debut novel that launched her remarkable career.

St. Elizabeths, a home for unwed mothers in Habit, Kentucky, usually harbors its residents for only a little while. Not so Rose Clinton, a beautiful, mysterious woman who comes to the home pregnant but not unwed, and stays. She plans to give up her child, thinking she cannot be the mother it needs. But when Cecilia is born, Rose makes a place for herself and her daughter amid St. Elizabeths extended family of nuns and an ever-changing collection of pregnant teenage girls. Roses past wont be kept away, though, even by St. Elizabeths; she cannot remain untouched by what she has left behind, even as she cannot change who she has become in the leaving.

"Synopsis" by , “A WONDERFUL NOVEL . . . Tylers eye and ear for familial give and take is unerring, her humanity irresistible. Youll want to turn back to the first chapter the moment you finish the last.”

-People (Page-Turner of the Week)

“STUNNING . . . ‘Once upon a time, the story begins, ‘there was a woman who discovered she had turned into the wrong person. . . . With Rebecca Davitch, Tyler has created a character who is brave enough to look back on her life and to imagine herself making different kinds of choices. Brave enough to wonder what honesty looks like, whether there is ever really a single distillation of self that is unshakable and true. . . . Anne Tyler has a talent for spinning out characters . . . who go on living long after their stories end.”

-The Baltimore Sun

“Her characters endear themselves to the reader with their candor and their wit and their simple decency. . . . The charm of an Anne Tyler novel lies in the clarity of her prose and the wisdom of her observations.”

-The Washington Post Book World

“RESEMBLES JANE AUSTENS PERSUASION IN THAT ITS A NOVEL ABOUT SECOND CHANCES . . . The tension that keeps the narrative alive is our desire for Rebecca to get the recognition and respect that we know she deserves from her family, and from herself. Its always good to have a character to root for.”

-San Jose Mercury News

“Maybe theres something glorious to be said, after all, for companionship, common cause, and sanctuary. And what there is to say, Anne Tyler has been saying for decades, with gravity and grace.”

-The New York Times Book Review

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