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Baby of the Family Reader’s Guide

By Maura Roosevelt

Baby of the Family by Maura Roosevelt


1. Wealth—whether it’s the loss or the preservation of it—is at the center of Baby of the Family. Which characters are motivated by monetary need? Why do you think that is? How does it change your opinion of them?

2. Baby of the Family is set in 2003, but the nods to the time period are subtle; there are cell phones, but not everywhere. Shelley’s relationship with Mr. Kamal exists pre-#MeToo. Even the style of political activism feels slightly different. Do you think the book would have been different had it been set in 2019?

3. Both Shelley and Nick are only children, yet Brooke is surrounded by and feels a connection to her other siblings as well. How does this factor into their approaches and reactions to the will, and one another?

4. There is a troubling imbalance of power in the relationship between Shelley and Mr. Kamal. How do you view Baby of the Family through the lens of the #MeToo era?

5. After so much time spent looking through the eyes of the Whitby family, Grace’s chapters are from the perspective of an outsider. Did her narrative give you a different way of interpreting the interconnectedness and dynamics of the Whitbys? Are the families similar in any way?

6. Did the meaning of the title change for you over the course of the book?

7. Did your definition of family or familial bonds change over the course of the novel? How do you think Nick, Shelley, and Brooke’s own definitions changed—or didn’t?

8. The Kamals’ and, to a lesser extent the Wainwrights’, are the only active marriages we see for most of the book. How do these relationships compare or contrast with Roger’s four failed marriages?

9. The Whitby legacy is based on real estate, and in Baby of the Family, there is an underlying theme of searching for home. By the novel’s end, do you believe any of the characters have found a lasting home or sense of belonging? Why or why not?

10. Brooke’s decisions regarding her pregnancy shine a sudden light on the mothers in the novel. What do you think their roles are in the story? How did they affect the way you saw the other characters?

11. Did the epilogue surprise you? In what ways?

12. The novel begins with Roger’s death, which creates shockwaves for the entire family. Do you think the children are able to grieve for him? How is their experience of losing Roger complicated by his actions in life? Do you believe they find resolution and closure by the end of the novel?
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