Questions for Discussion
1. In her youth, Ronni makes choices to further her career, often at the expense of her family, but we also see moments of doubt and, later in her life, regret. Do you think her choices are entirely selfish? Do you empathize with any of her conflicts? What would you have done differently in her shoes?
2. It seems as though in her own way, Ronni has her daughters’ best interests at heart, even if this sometimes hurts them. For instance, she constantly criticizes Meredith’s weight but also worries about her daughter’s engagement. In what way is Ronni’s relationship with her daughters like or unlike many parent-child relationships? How do you think parents can strike a balance between communicating parental wisdom and allowing their children to make their own decisions? Does Ronni ultimately succeed in doing so?
3. Nell often remarks that Ronni is a much better grandmother than she was a mother. Why do you think this is?
4. Do you think Ronni’s last attempt to bring her daughters together makes up for her wrongdoings as a mother?
5. Do you empathize with Ronni’s wish to die on her own terms? If you were in her daughters’ place, would you comply with her wishes? Why or why not?
6. It’s often difficult to change old habits, but the Sunshine sisters discover that they must in order to truly connect as a family. Do you find that you revert back to certain habits or roles around your family members? Do you think it’s possible to change these habits and, consequently, your familial relationships?
7. Throughout the book, we see that Ronni and her daughters have difficulty opening up to one another and communicating their true feelings. Oftentimes, it leads to conflict, such as Nell and Lizzy’s argument over using the farm for the pop-up supper club, or the family’s disapproval of Meredith’s fiancé. Why do you think it is so difficult for them to be truly vulnerable and open around one another? Do you find you have the same difficulties with your family members?
8. In many ways, the sisters refuse to confront their own problems but are remarkably perceptive at parsing one another’s issues and even predicting romance. Do you sometimes experience the same disparity in perception in your own life? Have you ever had a similar situation with a family member or close friend?
9. In the present day, the Sunshine sisters are not truly content with their lives and choices. Why do you think this is? Do you think it has anything to do with their familial relationships?
10. While talking about relationships with Nell, Meredith says, “There’s a large part of me that thinks it’s better to have stability, and kindness, and friendship. Those are the things that make a relationship last, I think. Not chemistry.” Do you agree? How important were each of these factors in the sisters’ relationships? Do you think they would agree with Meredith’s statement in the end?
11. How is Greta the perfect match for Nell despite being a completely unexpected romantic partner?
12. Are you satisfied with the way things end for the Sunshine sisters?