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Something to Read About

A Book Club Sampler from Simon & Schuster
By Chris Cleave, Philippa Gregory, Sarah Pekkanen, Mira Bartok

Reading Group Guide

    This reading group guide for These Girls includes discussion questions. 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. Questions and Topics for Discussion 1. Discuss the role of work in each girl’s life. To what extent do they find a sense of identity in their jobs? How do they define success or failure in their work lives, and how does either affect the way they think about themselves? 2. Each character in These Girls seems to be facing both an internal and an external struggle. Can you identify these? Are these struggles resolved by the novel’s conclusion? 3. Did you initially empathize with Abby or Joanna? Did your feelings toward Joanna change as the novel progressed? Does the fact that Abby has an affair with a married man make her less of a sympathetic character to you? Why or why not? 4. Describe the ways that each girl interacts with and connects to other people. How are their relationship styles similar, and how are they different? 5. Given the close bond that Trey and Abby share, do you think that he should have told her what happened to their brother? Why or why not? 6. How are mother-daughter relationships depicted in this novel? Was there one dynamic in particular that you identified with? 7. After Cate reminds her mother not to call her at work, she thinks to herself, “It felt odd to be imposing such restrictions and curfews on her mother, as if they’d somehow swapped roles during the past few years” (78). To what extent is this true of all the parent-child relationships we see in These Girls? 8. What is These Girls saying about the role—and effect—of secrets in relationships? Are some secrets necessary, or are they all inherently negative? Do you agree with Abby’s assessment that “The hardest things to talk about are also the most important things to talk about?” 9. Discuss some of the challenges that Cate’s new job presents. How does she handle these? In particular, what role does gender seem to play in them? 10. Each girl sees something in another of her roommates’ disposition that she covets. What are these qualities? Is this kind of desire an essential component of female friendship? 11. In the last scene of the novel, Cate tells Trey, “I don’t want to be the girl who chose a guy over her friends.” How did you feel about their final encounter? Did you agree with how Cate handled this situation? Would you have handled it differently? 12. Ostensibly, Renee wants to lose weight because she thinks it will help her nab the beauty editor job. But does she have other reasons? What else could be driving her? 13. If you were casting the film version of These Girls, who would you pick to play each character? Why? 14. Picture where you see Cate, Renee, and Abby in five years. What do their lives look like? Share your imaginings with your group.

About the Authors

Chris Cleave
Lou Abercrombie

Chris Cleave

Chris Cleave is the author of Everyone Brave Is Forgiven, Gold, and the #1 New York Times bestseller Little Bee. He lives with his wife and three children in Kingston-upon-Thames, England. Visit him at ChrisCleave.com or on Twitter @ChrisCleave.

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Philippa Gregory
Photo credit Santi U

Philippa Gregory

Philippa Gregory is the author of several bestselling novels, including The Other Boleyn Girl, and is a recognized authority on women’s history. Her Cousins’ War novels are the basis for the critically acclaimed Starz miniseries The White Queen. She graduated from the University of Sussex and received a PhD from the University of Edinburgh, where she is a Regent. She holds an honorary degree from Teesside University, and is a fellow of the Universities of Sussex and Cardiff. She welcomes visitors to her website, PhilippaGregory.com.

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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.

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Mira Bartok
photograph by Doug Plavin

Mira Bartok

Mira Bartók is a Chicago-born artist and the author of twenty-eight books for children. Her writing has appeared in several literary journals and anthologies and has been noted in The Best American Essays series. She lives in Western Massachusetts, where she runs Mira’s List, a blog that helps artists find funding and residencies all over the world. The Memory Palace is Mira’s first book for adults. You can find her at TheMemoryPalace.com.

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