The Antidote for Everything by Kimmery Martin
Questions for Discussion
1. The title is referenced twice in the book: first by Darby, who leads a relatively charmed life, when she declares that there’s an antidote for everything; and second by Georgia at the end of the book, when she articulates her epiphany for what she believes the antidote to be. What was the significance of the title to you? Do you believe there’s an antidote for everything?
2. Georgia contemplates love after interacting with the devoted and dying Mr. Fogelman and wonders “what would that be like, for another person to love you that much?” How does she experience love over the course of the book?
3. What was the most compelling aspect of Georgia and Jonah’s friendship? Have you ever had a similarly devoted friendship?
4. One of the minor themes of the book was the cyclical manipulation of public opinion through true-sounding but illogical sayings. In dealing with the hospital, Georgia and Jonah first contemplate, and ultimately revisit, the phrase “falsus in uno, falsus in omnibus,” or “false in one thing, false in everything.” Does this common platitude about truth hold up under scrutiny?
5. Mark and Georgia banter about the concept of felix culpa, which Georgia initially describes as “happy guilt.” There are certain instances in the story where the characters seem to believe that achieving happiness requires dishonorable actions. Was Georgia warranted in her ends-justify-the-means approach to winning Jonah’s job back?
6. Jonah is torn between exposing Donovan and trying to protect Georgia’s job. What decision would you have made in similar circumstances?
7. As a doctor, Georgia acknowledges that one of the more gratifying things about the practice of medicine is telling a family member that their loved one will be OK, and the subsequent rush of goodwill, gratitude, and happiness. In the novel, both Georgia and Jonah make sacrifices to help each other. Does Georgia’s experience as a healer—or her personality in general—predispose her to try to fix Jonah’s situation? Where is the line between being a supportive ally and trying to solve the problems of another person? Did Georgia cross that line, and if so, should Jonah have forgiven her?
8. Georgia’s delta tattoo is noticed by Mark, who immediately recognizes it as the mathematical emblem of change. In what significant ways does Georgia change throughout the course of the novel? What do you see as the greatest strengths and weaknesses of both Georgia and Jonah?
9. Jonah is an exceptionally devoted physician, advocating for his patients in every instance. In one scene, he comforts a woman who is actively prejudiced against him, managing to convey empathy for her loneliness even as she’s ending their professional relationship. Would you be able to set aside your own concerns to this degree?
10. We learn of an incident when Georgia was assaulted by Donovan Wright. Does the description of that trauma reference the frequency of “he said, she said” dynamics in similar situations? What were the lasting repercussions of that event for Georgia? How did the traumatic professional event that preceded it (and her judgment about how she handled the code) contribute to her feelings of self-blame afterward? Did this change or confirm anything about how you view sexual assault?
11. At the end of the book, John Beezon was transferred but essentially given a promotion. How realistic did you find this?
12. In the author’s note, Kimmery Martin mentions the shifting legal landscape relating to the legality of refusing services or a job to someone because of sexual orientation or gender identity. She also reveals that Jonah’s circumstances were loosely inspired by a true story. Have your own views on this subject altered over the course of your life?
13. At one point Georgia tells Donovan that if they don’t speak up for the autonomy of their profession, “one day you’re going to wake up and find yourself living in a theocracy.” The story line contains multiple portrayals of organized religion, ranging from a hard-line fundamentalism to a less-defined but more progressive version of spirituality. How do faith and social issues intersect in your community?