Discussion guide

Questions for discussion

  • According to Neil, the events in California happened "because of us". What do you think he means by that?
  • Who do you think is most to blame for what happens with Rose? Do Neil and Adam feel sufficiently guilty over it?
  • Both men come to the conclusion that they are "quits" over Claire and Rose. Do you agree?
  • Does Neil’s and Adam’s friendship survive despite what happened in California, or because of it?
  • "After this much time, a person could only be an idea, as perhaps she always had been." When Neil and Adam talk about Rose, what are they really talking about?
  • Neil thinks that Sam is "a different kind of relative, a friend, almost". What role does Sam play in the story?
  • Everything before Adam has children "seemed part of a different innings or account". How does becoming a father affect him?
  • Compare Adam’s marriage to Claire with his friendship with Neil. Which relationship is closer?
  • Adam blames his disappointments on "all that happiness" in his childhood. How do the friends’ backgrounds affect their lives and careers?
  • Adam and Neil have very different attitudes towards jobs and work. Which is closer to yours?
  • "In place of the old jeopardy," Neil thinks, "you found yourself clutching at holograms." How does technology affect the way the people in this book relate to one another?
  • "Didn’t everyone over twenty have some version of this story in their past?" Do they?
  • Which of the two friends do you like better? Did your sympathies shift over the course of the novel?

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Read the opening chapter