This reading group guide for The Why of Things includes an introduction, discussion questions, ideas for enhancing your book club, and a Q&A with author Elizabeth Hartley Winthrop. 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.
Since her seventeen-year-old daughter’s suicide less than a year ago, Joan Jacobs has been working to keep her once tight-knit family from coming apart. Now, arriving one June evening at their summer home in Massachusetts, she and her husband, Anders, and their two younger daughters stumble across another tragedy: a pickup truck has, inexplicably, driven straight into a quarry in their backyard. Within hours, divers drag up body of a young local man, James Favazza. As the Jacobs family learns more about the events that led up to that fateful evening, each member becomes increasingly tangled in the emotional threads of James’ life and death: fifteen-year-old Eve grows obsessed with proving that James’ death wasn’t an accident, though the police refuse to consider this; Anders finds himself forced to face his own deepest fears; and little Eloise unwittingly adopts James’ orphaned dog, all while Joan herself becomes increasingly fixated on James’ mother, a stranger whose los