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The Best of Us

A Novel
By Sarah Pekkanen

Reading Group Guide

    This reading group guide for The Best of Us includes discussion questions and ideas for enhancing your book club. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.

    Topics & Questions for Discussion

    1. Which of the women in The Best of Us did you mostidentify with, and why?

    2. Discuss the four marriages that are depicted in The Best of Us. What kinds of adjectives would you use to describeeach of them? Do any of your past or currentrelationships have similarities to one or more of thesemarriages? Which marriage seems the strongest and themost appealing to you?

    3. What do you think each woman learns from her time inJamaica? How does the trip change each of them?

    4. At several points in the novel, Gio makes jabs at Dwightand the way that his financial success is on display duringthe vacation. Allie suggests that Gio’s ability to providefor his family might be a sensitive point for him,saying, “Everyone has different emotional triggers, and evenif they don’t make sense to the rest of us, it’s important torespect them” (p. 109). What is this moment in the novelsaying about both Allie and Gio? And do you agree withAllie’s assessment?

    5. Savannah has many, many witty lines over the courseof the novel. Did you have a favorite? She also doesn’thesitate to say exactly what she is thinking, which contrastswith the personalities of “peacemakers” like Allie.Which woman are you more like, and has there everbeen a time when you’ve slipped into the other’s role?

    6. As Allie faces the possibility of a fatal illness, she beginsto second-guess many aspects of her life, includingher relationship with Ryan. She wonders: “Had she beenmistaking her husband’s passivity for agreeableness all theseyears?” (p. 171). How did you interpret Ryan’s easygoing nature? What do you think this quote is saying aboutthe behavior patterns that couples fall into over time?

    7. Tina is devastated when she realizes she forgot to callher kids on the first night they all arrive in Jamaica—and then wonders why Gio hadn’t remembered either.How are their parenting styles shown to differ throughoutthe novel? How do you think one’s role as a parentaffects one’s role in a marriage?

    8. There are many characters in The Best of Us who look forforgiveness at some point during the narrative. What doyou think the novel is saying about the role of secondchances in marriages and close friendships? Should theybe freely given? And can romantic or platonic love evertruly be unconditional?

    9. Which aspect of the trip to Jamaica sounded the mostappealing to you? However, as relaxing as a vacation canbe, The Best of Us illustrates that it can also be an occasionfor stress. Did this resonate with you? Why do youthink this happens?

    10. Since Savannah, Allie, and Tina were all close friendsin college, Pauline is less comfortable with them, andsometimes appears to be standoffish. Did your opinionof Pauline change over the course of the novel?

    11. After learning that Dwight has cheated on her, Paulinethinks, “He violated my trust, but what I did was evenworse. I never truly trusted him in the first place” (p. 329).Do you agree with this?

    12. “Didn’t all marriages carry thousands of hurts? Didn’thusbands and wives injure each other all the time, leavingwounds both big and small, with snapped words or forgottenanniversaries or emotional buttons deliberately pushed? Butthousands of kindnesses existed in marriages, too. The importantthing was that the kindnesses triumphed over the hurts”(p. 334). Do you agree with this assessment of marriage?If you had to pick one mantra or saying that defined asuccessful romantic relationship to you, what wouldit be?

    Enhance Your Book Club

    1. Savannah makes a playlist of songs from their collegeyears to bring along on the trip to Jamaica. If you wereto make a playlist of the hits from your college years,what would be on it? Share your compilation with thegroup.

    2. If you haven’t already, read Sarah Pekkanen’s Skipping aBeat as a group. Compare and contrast the portrayal ofmarriage in each book.

    3. In many ways, the trip to Jamaica that Pauline andDwight plan for their friends sounds like a dream vacation.What does your dream vacation look like? Wherewould you travel to, and what kinds of activities wouldyou ideally do there? Would you want to travel withfamily or friends—or even go by yourself? Share yourimaginings with the group.

About the Author

Sarah Pekkanen

Sarah Pekkanen is the internationally bestselling author of The Opposite of Me, Skipping a Beat, These Girls, The Best of Us, Catching Air, and Things You Won’t Say. Her work has been published in People, The Washington Post, and USA TODAY, among other publications. She lives with her family in Chevy Chase, Maryland.