Questions and Topics for Discussion
1. As the book opens, Gina sees the tattoo shop as her sanctuary, the one place where she belongs. As the shop–and her relationship with Dominic–begin to change, it’s difficult for her to let go of the way things were. Have you ever felt this way about a place? Discuss.
2. Gina and Anna are very different people who nonetheless form an immediate and deep connection. Why do you think they are drawn to each other? What qualities do they bring out in each other? Was there a moment or an aspect of their relationship that you could particularly relate to?
3. The question of why
we work looms large in this story—paying the bills, accolades and recognition, pleasure in the work itself, a sense of purpose and service, to name a few. How do Gina’s motivations for pursuing a tattooing career shift throughout novel, and why do they change?
4. Toward the end of the book, when Nicolas remarks, “What is life for, if not tasting all the experiences we can?” he’s revealing his idea of a life worth living. If you asked another character in this book—Rick, Anna, Dominic, Jeri—to describe a life worth living, how do you think they would reply? Which of these worldviews do you most identify with?
5. Gina’s mother Stella is a complex person who both loves and wounds Gina. How has growing up with Stella shaped Gina as a person, for better or for worse? How does Gina’s approach to her mother evolve over the course of the story?
6. Gina doesn’t share Anna’s affinity for large-scale politics and activism, but she is angered and grieved by the injustices in her town. How does she respond to the injustice around her? Do you think she should have done more? If so, what, and how?
7. In the final chapter, Gina tells Anna about a mental game she plays to break the habit of “fast-forwarding through the hard parts.” Was there a time in your life when it was a challenge to sit with difficulty or uncertainty? If you could go back and do it over, what would you pay more attention to, or be more present for? Does that change your perspective on the phase of life you’re in right now?
8. By the end of the book, Gina has planned her next steps, but the closing scene makes no promises about where that will lead. What do you think happens after the last page?