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Whatever Makes You Happy Reader’s Guide

By Lisa Grunwald

Whatever Makes You Happy by Lisa Grunwald


Questions and Topics for Discussion

1. At one point in the novel, Michael tells Sally that happiness is
“this moment.” What is T.J.’s definition of happiness? What is
Lucas’s definition? Do you have a personal definition of happiness?

2. Grunwald uses beach glass as a metaphor to describe Sally’s
own definition of happiness. What is the difference between
Sally’s beach glass and Michael’s “this moment”?

3. What is this book trying to say about happiness?

4. What, if anything, does Sally gain from her affair with Lucas?
Why does she pursue him—or allow herself to be pursued—in
the first place?

5. One of the quotes in the book is from Victor Hugo, who said,
“The greatest happiness of life is the conviction that we are
loved.” Does this maxim hold true in the novel? Do you believe
that being loved is a requirement for happiness?

6. What is the importance of the death of Sally’s father to the rest
of the story? What is the connection between loss and happiness,
in the book and in life?

7. Sally’s two children are very different from one another, in
terms of how outwardly happy they seem. Are some people
born happy and others born unhappy? Do you think there is a
a basic level of happiness or unhappiness to which individuals
naturally gravitate?

8. Do you think that the book has a happy ending?

9. Do you think of happiness as a luxury? Do you think of it as
a right? Is our culture too obsessed with the idea of happiness?

10. When you hear the word “happiness,” what is the first thing
that comes to mind?

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