Reading Group Guide

    Readers Guide
    Questions and Topics for Discussion
    1. To what degree is the title a metaphor for this novel?
    2. Are Jamie's actions justified? What about Cam's? Allie's?
    3. Who is the author of the "notes" between the chapters? Whom are these snippets addressing? Did you believe this throughout the book?
    4. Jamie says, "You know it's never fifty-fifty in a marriage. It's always seventy-thirty, or sixty-forty. Someone falls in love first. Someone puts someone else up on a pedestal. Someone works very hard to keep things rolling smoothly; someone else sails along for the ride." Do you agree?
    5. In what ways does Mia's memory of her parents' love influence her relationship with Cam?
    6. Who is the most selfish character? The most selfless?
    7. In what ways are Cam and Jamie similar?
    8. How is Cameron MacDonald like his namesake ancestor? How is he different? To what extent does the Scottish history of this clan affect his decisions?
    9. What is the significance of the moments in Mercy that are magical or somewhat unreal?
    10. There is a catch-22 in Mia and Cam's relationship: They have each fallen in love with a person who would no longer exist if they were to run off together. Do you agree or disagree with this statement, and why?
    11. Is there a hero in this book?
    12. What attracts Allie to Jamie? To Cam? What attracts Mia to Cam, and Cam to Mia? Do you believe that we try to find in the people we love parts of our personalities that are lacking?
    13. At the end of chapter 17, Cam "wondered how he had so quickly gone from holding everything he wanted in the palm of his hand to having absolutely nothing at all. He wondered how he could have been so blinded by something shiny and new and elusive that he couldn't at least give equal credit for the strength of something stable, and strong, and his." Do you think his feelings are heartfelt? Do you agree?
    14. Why did Picoult choose to make Jamie a pioneer in virtual reality?
    15. How has Jamie changed by the end of the book?
    16. What will happen to Cam and Allie? To Mia? To Jamie?
    17. Is this novel about love, or loyalty? Are they the same thing?

About the Author

Jodi Picoult
Photograph © Adam Bouska

Jodi Picoult

Jodi Picoult received an AB in creative writing from Princeton and a master’s degree in education from Harvard. The recipient of the 2003 New England Book Award for her entire body of work, she is the author of twenty-one novels, including the #1 New York Times bestsellers House Rules, Handle With Care, Change of Heart, and My Sister’s Keeper, for which she received the American Library Association’s Margaret Alexander Edwards Award. She lives in New Hampshire with her husband and three children. Visit her website at