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Do Not Become Alarmed Reader’s Guide

By Maile Meloy

Do Not Become Alarmed by Maile Meloy

READERS GUIDE

1.     Do Not Become Alarmed is about a family that encounters sudden and unexpected danger. What do you think this says about the world around us, and about the way we perceive safety?
 
2.     There is also a global aspect to the book, as the disaster occurs while the families are traveling. How might our countries of origin affect our understanding of safety? As Americans, is there a sense that we live in a bubble, that we are sheltered from many harsh realities?
 
3.     The children in Do Not Become Alarmed vary in age—how do you think they each process the events of the novel, and to what extent does it change them? What do they learn?
 
4.     In turn, what does each parent learn by the end?
 
5.     The novel is about two families of longtime friends. How does their relationship look at the beginning of the book, and how does it look at the end? What has changed? Do you think the difference is permanent?
 
6.     Do Not Become Alarmed is also a novel about marriage. Some marriages hold up in the face of disaster and tragedy, while others do not. What do you think the prognosis is for Liv and Benjamin’s marriage? Or Nora and Raymond’s? What about the Argentine parents, Gunther and Camila?
 
7.     Noemi’s plotline adds a sense of perspective to the book—how do the circumstances of her life differ from those of the American characters? How do her perceptions of danger and survival compare?
 
8.     The book has a happy ending for most of the characters, but not all of them. Discuss the author’s choice to resolve each family’s story the way she does.  
 
9.     Do Not Become Alarmed explores many themes—love, relationships, childhood, marriage, infidelity, travel, danger, immigration, and more. Which themes resonated most with you? Why? 
 
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