Questions and Topics for Discussion
1. Discuss the many mother-daughter relationships at the core of the novel. How does Charlotte’s relationship with her mother impact her relationship with her own daughters?
2. What do you think of Lee’s decision to rig the “Become a Jetsetter” contest? What kinds of boundaries is she crossing, and do you think her actions are justified? How does Ward explore ideas of privacy and boundaries between loved ones in the novel?
3. Which character did you like the best, and why?
4. How would this story be different if it didn’t take place on a cruise? How was the plot shaped by the confined cruise ship setting?
5. Discuss how the book handles the matter of age. Do you think there are different societal expectations for people of certain ages? How do you see those expectations represented or subverted in this book? How does that apply to the portrayal of female desire in the novel, particularly for Charlotte?
6. Did you look for yourself or elements of your own family dynamic in this novel? What aspects of the familial relationships in this book did you find relatable?
7. If you had to enter the “Become a Jetsetter” contest, what would your story be about?
8. Why does Cord seem to have an especially difficult time coming out to his family? In what ways does his family mishandle his coming out, and what could they have done differently?
9. How does Winston’s alcoholism and mistreatment of his family impact them later in life?
10. Leo Tolstoy once wrote that “All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” After reading this novel, do you agree? Why or why not?
11. Discuss two of the main themes of the novel: love and truth. How are these themes at odds and how do they work together?