1) Exploring the bonds that bind a family is one of the major themes of the story. What are some of the expressions of closeness that the sisters display?
2) What are some of the characteristics the sisters share? What are some of their differences?
3) What adjectives would you use to describe Shelby? Marilyn? Lakey? Maddie? Helen?
4) The impact of Helen's behavior on the sisters is complex. How does her attitude toward men shape the sisters' attitudes? How does her use of her beauty affect them?
5) How do the sisters view their mom's beauty? How do they reflect her values?
6) In many families the siblings take care of one another. Describe the relationship of Shelby and Maddie before they go to live with their fathers and then while they are separated.
7) How do the fathers relate to Helen now that they are no longer with her? How do they relate to their daughters? How do they relate to one another?
8) The discussion of marriage comes up many times in the story. How has their mother's desire not to marry affected the sisters?
9) Helen and the fathers are described as outsiders. Helen found each man through their shared loneliness. Have the sisters also become outsiders? Can they change?
10) Which sister is the most rebellious? Who is the most compliant? Who is the most motherly? Give examples that support your choices.
11) We learn both from our parents and from our surroundings. Do these char