Readers Guide forEighty Days to ElsewhereQuestions for Discussion
1. Eighty Days to Elsewhere
is a story about a journey—around the world, yes, but also a journey of the heart. In this adventure, Romy sees the world for the first time outside the pages of the books she has read, so everything feels brand new to her. Have you traveled to another country? What was the biggest cultural difference you experienced?
2. Romy’s first impressions of Dominic harden her heart against him, even when his behavior shows him to be a better person than she believes. Have you ever had a terrible first impression of someone, only to end up close to them?
3. With all her years of education, and her obvious abilities, why do you think Romy is still working at the Two Old Queens bookshop? Just like in this story, sometimes taking the easy, comfortable choice is no longer an option in the real world. Have you ever been forced to step up and make a difficult life choice?
4. Romy has a strong support group at home, with her uncles, her friend Jersey, and even the librarians at the NYPL available to offer support when she needs it. But when she takes on the ExLibris challenge, all that changes, and she is on her own for the first time in her life. Have you ever faced a challenge alone, without the support of family or friends around you? What advice would you give Romy when she steps on board the ship that will take her away from New York for the first time?
5. What possible circumstances could compel you out of your comfort zone at home? Do you think you would be able to go on a journey like Romy’s, with limited finances and options for transportation?
6. Does Dominic’s motivation change over the course of the challenge? Do his priorities change, or is he just able to find a compromise that works?
7. Both Romy and Dom encounter unexpected adventures and a huge learning curve about their own planet in their race around the world. Meeting Sumaya shows Romy that the world is both much larger and much smaller than she ever expected. How does the interaction with this Somali teenager change Romy? And how does it change the tenor of the competition between Romy and Dom?
8. Romy has a definite worldview before she sets out on her journey. Did you find yourself judging her because of her choices? As the story progresses, Romy begins to question herself on some of her first-world values. Has travel ever changed your worldview?
9. Compare Romy and Dom’s reactions to the encounter with fellow American travelers on a train in Hong Kong. How are Romy’s own perceptions changed by traveling with Dom and Sumaya?
10. When Romy first departs, she takes her old suitcase along as sort of a talisman. As the journey progresses, what she puts into the suitcase, and the value of the case itself begin to take on a heightened importance. Why is this particular object so significant to Romy? How does her inadvertent arrival in Alaska bring Romy’s past and future both into sharper focus?
11. If you had a chance to press pause in the frantic pace of this journey, would you have liked Romy to linger longer in Paris—or perhaps Eritrea, or Japan? Is there some other part of the world you would like to see more thoroughly through Romy’s eyes—or your own?
12. If ExLibris was setting up a literary expedition for you, which book would you choose? What adventure would you most love to reenact for yourself?