Thank you for choosing our novel as your book club selection! Liz and Lisa LOVE book clubs and are available to video conference in for thirty minutes for discussion. (And wine!) Head to Novel Network to request a visit. Before you read the discussion Q's below, please be aware there are spoilers!
the two lila bennetts
1. Lila Bennett has no shortage of flaws. She’s lied, cheated, backstabbed and has defended questionable clients. What was your initial reaction to Lila? Did it change as you got deeper into the story? How did you feel about her in the beginning of the book as opposed to the end? And what is your overall feeling on female lead characters that are unlikeable/have unlikeable qualities?
2. When Lila’s life splits into two, you get to see two different versions of her life play out. Which version did you root for Lila more in? Was there a version of her life you preferred over the other?
3. Have you ever made a choice and wondered if you’d made the opposite, what would have happened? Did Lila’s journey make you think about choices you’ve made? About your own ‘what ifs’?
4. Although Lila is only taken hostage in one version of her life, the “taken” life, in the other, the “free” life, she ‘feels’ and ‘dreams’ and ‘sees’ things that are in reference to her taken life. Do you think we have more than one life playing out at the same time? Have you ever felt dejavu and wondered if it could be something more?
5. Lila’s dad had multiple affairs and was killed by a teenage drunk driver. Lila’s mom made a questionable choice to tell Lila about her father’s infidelities. Her complicated feelings about both parents lead to her decision to become a criminal defense attorney. Do you understand why Lila made this choice?
6. Lila grapples with her decision to become a criminal defense attorney, especially after Jeremiah Taylor was acquitted of murdering his wife. What did you think of Lila’s decision not to represent Jeremiah in the civil case?
7. Did you feel you saw a change in Lila when it came to Ethan? Do you think it was too little too late? Do you think Ethan ultimately takes her back?
8. In the end, Lila makes the ultimate sacrifice when she steps in front of the bullet intended for Steve Greenwood’s wife, Lynn. Do you think she died as a result of Karma? Do you think she should have died? Why or why not?
9. Lila’s best friend was Carrie and she broke her trust in the worst way. What did you think of their last interaction? Did you understand Carrie’s POV? Do you think Carrie was too easy on Lila? Do you think she got the same pictures that Ethan did? Do you think what Lila did to Carrie would ever be forgivable?
10. Do you believe in Karma? How do you think that factored into Lila’s story?
11. Sam had an affair with Lila. When she broke up with him, he used his position at the law firm to hurt her. Sam doesn’t appear to have many redeemable qualities. Why do you think Lila was so drawn to him?
12. Did you understand the significance of Lila’s notebook where she kept the tallies about Sam?
13. Were you surprised when the person holding Lila hostage was revealed? Why or why not? If you were surprised, why did you think it was someone else?
14. How do you imagine the life in which Lila didn’t die playing out?
girls’ night out
1. Ashley invites Natalie and Lauren on a trip to Tulum, Mexico to try to fix their frayed friendships. What do you think of this decision? Did it ever have a chance of working? How could Ashley have acted differently to ensure her friends were more open to the changes she wanted to make?
2. Ashley doesn’t tell Natalie or Lauren that Ashley’s husband, Jason, is verbally abusive. Natalie doesn’t tell Ashley or Lauren that Natalie’s husband, Ben, has lost their money. Lauren initially doesn’t tell Ashley or Natalie that her husband Geoff was physically abusive and also doesn’t tell either friend that she develops a subsequent sex addiction. Why do you think each kept her secret(s) from the others? Is it common to have secrets from your best friend(s)? Can you still have solid friendships without telling your best friends everything?
3. Upon arrival in Tulum, Ashley and Lauren have barely spoken in a year, since Geoff’s funeral. What do you think of Lauren’s outburst at the funeral—blaming Ashley for Geoff’s death? Why do you think she did that? What about Ashley’s response to it? She had wanted to apologize to Lauren but Natalie talked her out of it. How could each person have handled the situation better?
4. Why do you think Lauren agreed to go to Tulum when she was still so upset about Geoff’s death and the part she felt Ashley played in it?
5. Right under the surface of the margaritas they drink that first night is the unsettled disputes between them. Why do you think each of them were was so fearful to bring up the things that needed resolving? And if not that first night, why not the next or the next? Why do you think it’s often so hard to talk about conflicts we have with those closest to us?
6. Ashley and Natalie could not agree over whether they should sell their company. Ashley was afraid to let go of the only thing she was good at. Natalie needed the money, but also was fried from the long hours away from family and breaking down under Ben’s pressure that she should quit. Both seemed to have legitimate points of view. Why do you think they couldn’t see the other’s side? Did you feel for one of them more than the other?
7. Why do you think Ashley was drawn to Marco? Why do you think Marco was drawn to Ashley?
8. After Natalie wakes up alone on the beach, she tells Lauren she can’t remember what happened the night before. Despite the fact she wants to remember and do whatever she can to find Ashley, she omits the part about where she woke up. Why do you think she didn’t tell Lauren this? Or the authorities? Do you think there is a part of her that thought she was capable of hurting Ashley?
9. When Ashley reveals her secret to Lauren while at El Castillo, Lauren reacts with anger. Why do you think she responded this way? Do you think she had a right to be mad?
10. Long-term friendships are often complicated. There are many layers to them and over time, there can be resentments and issues, that while resolved, don’t disappear. Or perhaps they aren’t ever properly addressed and simmer below the surface. Either way, these friendships can be akin to family. There is a love between long term friends that can’t be rivaled. Do you understand Natalie, Ashley and Lauren’s friendships? Can you relate?
11. Tulum was chosen as the backdrop of this novel because of its history and spirituality and also because of its intense beauty. What do you think of the choice to set the story here?
12. What do you think of the ending? Were you surprised?
13. What do you think becomes of Natalie when she returns home to Los Angeles? Do you think living with her guilt over her last minutes with Ashley is her penance? Or do you feel having to continue with the company is? Or a combination of both?
The Good Widow
1. When Jacks learns her husband, James, was in Maui, not Kansas, where he told her he was going for work, she said she hadn’t wanted to be “one of those wives” who knew her husband’s passwords and required him to “check in”. What do you think of this? Do you believe in total transparency in a marriage/committed relationship?
2. Conversely, Jacks also lied to her husband about the strong likelihood that she would not be able to conceive children—something that drove a wedge between them in their marriage. When she found out James lied about his whereabouts and that he’d been having an affair, she was angry. Do you think she had a right to be when she had also been untrustworthy?
3. Jacks and her sister, Beth, are very close—they were born only 18 months apart and live within a mile of one another. Jacks tells Beth everything, but she didn’t tell her the biggest secret in her life—that she most likely couldn’t conceive children. Why do you think she kept this from her sister/best friend? Do you believe best friends can/should have secrets? What do you think of Beth’s reaction once she did find out?
4. Beth didn’t tell Jacks she saw James and Dylan together a month before they died. Jacks initially blames her sister, because had she told Jacks, maybe Jacks could have stopped the affair. Do you understand Jacks’ reaction? Do you understand Beth’s reasoning for not mentioning it? What would you have done if you were in Beth’s shoes?
5. Jacks makes a controversial decision to go to Maui with Nick, a man she barely knows. Do you understand why she went with him? Even though Nick turns out to be a bad man, do you think Jacks got anything positive out of the experience?
6. Beth is the voice of reason in this book. She seems to see things that Jack can’t or won’t. Jacks doesn’t listen to Beth when she warns her not to go to Maui. Beth also doesn’t like Nick when she meets him and makes it known. Do you think Beth was forceful enough in her opinions? Should she have pushed harder to make Jacks see what she saw? What is your opinion on pushing a friend/loved one to see things the way you do when your alarm bells are going off?
7. One of the main themes in this book is forgiveness. Do you understand why Jacks ultimately forgave James but was still unable to forgive herself?
8. Jacks learns a lot about herself through her journey back to Maui and ultimately when she returns home to California where she started to pick up the pieces. Ultimately, she discovers she is stronger than she ever believed. Often we don’t see or acknowledge our inner strength until we go through something incredibly difficult. Why do you think that is? Why don’t we give ourselves more credit for what we are capable of?
9. Jacks learns that Dylan was pregnant when she died. This crushes her. Especially because the baby is likely James’. Do you think this was karma because of the lies she’d told James about her own infertility? Do you believe in Karma?
10. Jacks and her mother-in-law never had a close relationship. But despite this, Jacks still makes the decision not to tell her the truth about her son. What do you think of Jacks’ decision to protect James? Would you have done the same?
11. What did you think of Jacks falling in love with Nick? Do you understand how it could happen? Do you think she was ignoring internal red flags or did she really not see them? What are your thoughts on how blinding love can often be?
12. What do you think Jacks’ future holds? Do you think she will be able to recover and fall in love again? If you could write the next chapter of her story, what would it be?
The year We Turned Forty
1. How did you interpret the title? Did you think your own age would impact your experience reading the book? How did that differ from the beginning to the end?
2. What do you think the book is saying about regret? Is it possible to fix your mistakes? Is it necessary to correct them to move forward with your life? How did regret impact each of the protagonists?
3. Jessie's marriage fell apart after she confessed her affair to her husband, Grant, and told him that her son was not her his biological child. When she went back to the year she turned forty, did you understand her initial choice to not tell her husband the truth the second time around?
4. Another theme in the book is fate. The authors explore the idea of how each choice people make can change the outcome of their future. How did you feel about Peter's reaction to the baby once he saw him? And that impact on Jessie's return to the year she turned forty.
5. Gabriela used her chance to re-do her fortieth year to try to convince her husband to have a baby. Their marriage, that was solid before, suddenly suffers greatly. And so does her writing career. Is hers a case where she shouldn't have gone back? Or, despite the fact that she didn't get the baby she wanted, was it still worth it?
6. Claire was scared to return to the year she turned forty because she lost her mother. And she feared going through that devastation again. Would you return to a certain year if you could relive that time with a loved one you'd lost?
7. The friendships between the women were tested when they went back to the year they turned forty. Especially when Jessie and Claire kept the secret of Lucas' paternity from Gabriella for the second time. What did you think of Jessie's choice to keep this secret--again? Do you feel there are times there should be secrets, even between the closest of friends?
8. Claire struggled greatly with the guilt she felt over being a single mom to Emily. And she worried about letting Emily's father back into her life. What did you think about her decision to keep Emily's father's letters from Emily? And how did Claire returning to that time with her daughter change things between them for the better?
9. Is there a time in your life you'd go back to so you could fix a mistake you made or try to change the outcome of a certain situation?
10. Do you think having a second chance to redo a mistake is a good thing? Or do you feel that it's our mistakes, missteps and even regrets that make us who we are? Do you believe everything happens for a reason?
10. They say hindsight is 20/20 but in the case of the three protagonists, already knowing the outcome of their lives didn't necessarily help them. In fact, it often made things worse. Is this because people can't truly change?
12. The three protagonists each had serious regrets over things that happened to them the year they turned forty. And they went back to try to fix major mistakes they felt they made. What if you could go back and relive a fun and positive time, would you? Would you go back to your high school prom? College graduation? Childhood?
the status of all things
1. What do you think of Kate’s obsession with social media? Can you relate to her insecurities about how what she wrote online reflected her life? Do you think social media is a positive or a negative when it comes to how we portray ourselves?
2. Kate gets an opportunity to relive the last thirty days of her life. Why do you think she fought so hard to make things work with Max even though she knew he’d already left her at the altar the first time around?
3. Kate learns she has the ability to make any Facebook status she writes come true. She initially uses the ability to wish for frivolous things like a blow out and new shoes. What did you think of her choice to do this? Why didn’t she simply wish to be back together with Max from the start?
4. When Kate uses her Facebook statuses to give her best friend, Liam, the chance to be with an actress he’s harbored a crush on, their friendship suffers as a result. Suddenly Liam isn’t as available to Kate and she’s hurt by this. His absence ultimately leads her to realize her feelings might be stronger for him than she thought. Why do you think it often takes seeing someone with another person to make us realize how we feel about them?
5. Courtney is Kate’s best friend and also her co-worker. When Kate goes back in time, she must work side-by-side with Courtney and pretend Max never confessed he had feelings for her. Why do you think Kate doesn’t just confront her friend about her feelings for Max?
6. Kate uses her Facebook status to get Courtney fired. What do you think of this choice?
7. A main theme in this book is fate. The authors explore how each choice people make can change the outcome of their future. Kate tries to keep Max and Courtney apart, but her actions keep pushing them together. Why do you think this happened?
8. When Kate goes back in time, she realizes things about Julie’s life that she hadn’t before, even though they are best friends. Why do you think this is? And how does Kate’s ability to make wishes come true on Facebook help and hurt Jules?
9. Kate’s mom has been unable to let go of the fact that her ex-husband, Kate’s father, left her years before when Kate was a little girl. He then went on to remarry a woman Kate’s mother refuses to accept is a good stepmother to Kate. How does Kate going back in time change her mom’s future?
10. Kate’s dad tells her he has no regrets—even though he walked out on her and her mom years before. That even if he’d been given a do-over, he wouldn’t have taken it. How does this impact Kate? Do you understand her reaction?
11. If you had the power to make any wish come true by writing it on Facebook, would you? What would you wish for?
12. If were given the chance to relive a time in your life to change something bad that had happened to you, would you do it?
13. Ruby only appears at certain times throughout the novel. Why do you think she surfaces when she does?
14. Kate is able to convince Jules and Liam that she has time traveled. Liam asks Kate to stay with him and give their relationship a chance—not to go back to the morning of her wedding. What do you think of her choice to tell him no?
15. What do you think of the ending of the book? Are you satisfied?
16. What do you think happens between Kate and Liam? Does their relationship work out?