For Book Clubs

Reading Group Guide

  1. Laurie and Alan’s relationship begins to change after the miscarriages. Fertility issues are a huge strain on a marriage.  Laurie and Alan both secretly blame themselves, and each other.  Is there anything they could have done differently?
  2. As a pregnant woman, it’s easy for Laurie to accept being a mother.  But it’s more complicated for Alan and Jack.  When Alan finds out he’s not the biological father, he feels his parenting role slip away.  Jack donated his sperm for financial reasons. What is the definition of a parent?  Discuss how Alan and Jack struggle to define their roles as fathers.
  3. When Laurie and Alan find out about the sperm switch, Dr. Julian mentions termination as an option.  But is it a real consideration for Laurie?  For Alan?  As a moral choice, should termination ever be an option?
  4. All our main characters deal with guilt at some point in the book.  Laurie’s two miscarriages make her feel she’s failed as a woman.  Alan feels guilty over his inability to bond with unborn baby Buddy and about his online flirtation with Nancy Futterman.  Jack’s got guilt to spare— stealing money, two girlfriends, lying to his parents.  Who in the book has the most to feel guilty about?  Is there a difference between justified and unjustified guilt?
  5. The idea of finding out your baby is only half genetically related to you is devastating.  What would you do in the situation?  If you were Laurie?  If you were Alan? If you were Jack?
  6. Would men and women react differently?  Would most men sympathize with Alan? Agree with his behavior? Want a do-over?  Would women be comfortable with Laurie’s decision to have the baby?  To insist on meeting Jack and making him part of her life?
  7. Laurie meeting Jack makes Alan uncomfortable.  Should she have respected his wishes and not met Jack?  Was she right to allow Jack to move into the house, to take her to Lamaze?  How much should Laurie allow Jack to be part of the baby’s life afterward?  Will that be fair to Alan?  And is it fair for Laurie to expect Jack to be involved with the baby?
  8. After Laurie and Alan find out about the switched sperm, their relationship becomes more difficult.  Alan shuts down and Laurie goes off on her own to track down donor 296.  Suppose Laurie hadn’t contacted Jack.  Would it be better (as Alan says) for them to know nothing about the sperm donor?  Keep it a mystery?  But what about medical issues?  Shouldn’t Laurie and Alan know as much as possible about the donor to ensure the health of the baby?
  9. Earlier in their marriage, Laurie and Alan talked about wanting to adopt a child. As Alan says, he doesn’t need to replicate himself—but when he finds out he isn’t the birth father, suddenly he’s very uncomfortable.  What makes a child your child?  Is an adopted child different from a birth child?  When do you fall in love with that child?  Is Alan’s fear a real one?  Is it relatable?
  10. There are various ways to have a baby when complications arise.  Fertility treatments and adoption are two options.  Discuss the difference between the time and expense of fertility treatments and adopting in a world filled with unwanted children in orphanages or foster care.
  11. Which character changes the most?  The least.
  12. Discuss Alan’s statement: “Families are all kind of different these days.”  Is that true?
  13. What will happen with Laurie, Alan, and Jack after the baby comes home?  Where will they be a year from now? Three years from now?