Life and Other Inconveniences
Kristan Higgins Questions for Discussion
1. Genevieve copes—and teaches her family to cope—by soldiering on despite life’s hindrances. Do you think this helps or hurts her family? In what way?
2. Genevieve’s treatment of her two sons goes from one extreme to the other. Do you think parents sometimes favor one child over another? Are we blind to our own children’s faults? Are we blind to our faults as parents?
3. Why do you think Genevieve has so many dogs?
4. In what ways are Genevieve and Emma similar?
5. How do you think the tragedies and hardships that Emma faces shape her as a person? What about as a parent? How do they shape her for the better?
6. Why do you think Emma agrees to go back to New England when her grandmother asks her? Is it really just for Riley’s sake?
7. How does Riley bring Genevieve and Emma together?
8. How are Paul, Emma’s grandfather, and Genevieve able to get over their differences?
9. Parenting is a major theme in the book, especially when it comes to the role of the father: Clark as a father to Emma, Garrison as a father to Clark, and Miller as a father to Tess. How do their experiences affect their parenting of their children?
10. Choice is another major theme in the book: Emma’s choices to keep Riley; to move in with Paul, her pop; and to allow Genevieve to meet Riley. How do Emma’s choices shape her life? Do you disagree with any of the choices she makes?
11. Why do you think Riley is able to connect with Genevieve in a way that Emma can’t?
12. Emma says, “Life tooketh with one hand and gaveth with the other.” Several of the characters either go through tragedies or make choices that alter the course of their lives. In what ways does life work out anyway? How do you think their lives would have been different if these events had not occurred?
13. How does Genevieve show that she truly does care for Emma? In what ways does Emma show she truly cares for Genevieve? How do you think they could have shown it better to each other?
14. What do you think makes it possible for Emma to be by Genevieve’s side when she dies?
15. Four generations of women are featured in the book: Genevieve, April, Emma and Riley. In what ways are they similar as mothers and as daughters? Why do you think the author chose to create this family dynamic? How does the author use the characters to display the nuances of motherhood and childhood?