Questions for A Piece of Normal

Reader’s Guide


  1. Lily is proud that she’s maintained an amicable relationship with Teddy after their divorce. What do you think she gets out of maintaining such a deep friendship with her ex-husband? Is being his confidante helping her or holding her back? Do you think such relationships between exes can work?
  2. Do you think Lily was destined to be an advice columnist? In which ways is this job perfect and not-so-perfect for her?
  3. Do you think Lily gives good advice? Did you agree with her choice to write her revised answer to Evangeline, the nervous bride-to-be? What would you have done?
  4. When Lily and Dana’s aprents died, the suddenness of the their deaths threw their daughters into turmoil. In what ways did their separate experiences of grief tear the sisters apart? Could Lily have prevented this from happening?
  5. When Dana left home to be the tambourine girl for the Morbid Gullets, Lily became immobilized, unable to do anything but sit on the beach and dig holes in the sand. Was this breakdown caused by her guilt about not being able to help Dana, or do you think there was something more going on?
  6. One of the themes of this book is the fact that secrets can tear families apart. Why do you think Lily, who was perceptive enough to be an advice columnist, somehow missed the secret relationship between her mother and Gracie? Do children always accept as normal the families they grow up in?
  7. Dana can be seen as a breath of fresh air who stirs up Lily’s life and gets her moving again by forcing her to examine what’s really important to her. Or she can be seen as a manipulative liar who takes what she wants of Lily’s life and doesn’t really care how Lily is affected. Which way do you see her? Is it possible to be both at once?
  8. With whom do you identify more: Dana or Lily? What are the strengths and weaknesses of being a free spirit and being a more stable, mature adult?
  9. Does Teddy truly love Dana, or is he just seeing her as a more accessible, and needier, version of the independent Lily? Does their relationship stand a chance?
  10. Do you think that Lily will be able to live in the other part of her parents’ duplex and start a new life with Alex? Should she have stood up for herself and kept the house, or was it important that she let it go?