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The Last Time I Saw Youby Elizabeth Berg
Reading Group Guide
1. Many people say they're going to a reunion for one reason, when it's really for another. Why do you think most people attend reunions?
2. Berg portrays a diverse group of high school classmates in her novel. Did you have a favorite character before the reunion? After?
3. Much of what we learn about Berg’s characters comes from stories told by others. Which of the characters seems best known by his or her classmates? Which classmate are people most wrong about?
4. Which characters were actually the happiest in high school? Does this match or contradict the perceptions of others?
5. In your opinion, is nostalgia generally a good or a bad thing? Other than reunions, what are some examples of things that happen in our lives that lead us to think, sometimes obsessively, about the past?
6. Dorothy Shauman is obsessed with seducing her high school crush, Pete Decker, at the reunion. She finds the perfect outfit, confers with her friends on strategy, and even sends herself flowers at the reunion hotel. But things don’t go as planned with Pete come reunion night. Why do you think Dorothy strikes out with Pete?
7. In high school, people often go to great lengths to disguise their "real selves." Which of the characters did this in high school, and which of them are still doing it as the novel opens? What do you think it is that allows us to be, and to accept, our most authentic selves?
8. Pete and Candy were the king and queen of high school. But no matter what the others think of them, their lives post-high school have not always gone according to plan. Discuss Pete and Candy and how differently they seem to have handled their popularity – both during and after high school.
9. Mary Alice might not have been popular in high school, but it didn’t seem to bother her. So why are the people in her life (her older sister and her elderly neighbor, Einer) so worried about her going to her reunion?
10. Why was Lester initially so hesitant to go to his reunion? Why do you think he changed his mind? Was it just the pressure from Jeanine, or something more?
11. Many of the characters in the novel assume, going into the reunion, that their classmates will be exactly as they remembered them. Of course that’s not the case. Which of Berg’s characters has changed the least since high school? The most? Do you think people really change?
12. Towards the end of the reunion, Pam Pottsman organizes an activity where classmates gather around and tell the truth about a variety of issues. Were you surprised by the people who participated, and the stories they shared? Why or why not? What would you share if you played this game with your high school classmates?
13. When you look back on your own high school days, what do you remember about yourself, and your fellow classmates? Equipped with the knowledge and experience you have now, if you could do high school over again, what would you do differently?
14. Have you been to your high school reunions? If you haven’t, talk about why you decided not to go. If you have, what was your experience like? Discuss.
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