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Reading Guide for The Hole in the Middle
- The Hole in the Middle takes place in two different time periods – 1994-1995 and 2011-2012. How does this technique enrich our understanding of the characters and their actions?
- Is The Hole in the Middle a contemporary fairytale? Why or why not?
- The character of Lillian Parker plays a key role in Sophie’s life, both in the past and the present. What do you think motivates Lil’s interest in Sophie? How do you feel about her interference in Sophie’s choices?
- Much of the novel is set in Sophie’s office. Why do you think the author placed such an emphasis on Sophie’s work relationships? What do these relationships tell us about Sophie? Is there a broader message in the novel about gender in the workplace?
- Do you think that Sophie and Jesse have a good marriage? Why or why not? Do you think that Will poses a serious threat to their relationship at any point in the book? If so, do you think he continues to pose a threat at the end of the book?
- Towards the end of the novel, Lil says: “The first half of life is about getting as far away from your past as you can. And then, just when you’ve established yourself as a full-fledged adult, a hole opens up in the middle of life and the past comes rushing back in. By the time you’re my age, if you aren’t careful, the past is more real than the present.” Do you agree with her?
- Does Sophie experience a true midlife crisis in the book? Do you feel that she is at a genuine crossroads in her life, or is she merely having a very difficult week?
- Zoe tells Sophie: “Every woman has a ‘what if’ guy somewhere in her past.” Is this true of you? How has your experience of that past relationship influenced your choice of partner in the present?
- What do you think of Zoe’s ‘romantic archetype’ theory? How would Zoe characterize your romantic choices?
- Sophie’s journey is, in part, a search for work-life balance. Do you think that work-life balance is achievable? Does Sophie find it at the end of the novel?
- Sophie bears far more responsibility for household management and childcare than Jesse does. Why do you think their family has evolved in this way? Do you think it is possible for men and women to share parenting equally?
- Why do you think the author chose The Hole in the Middle as the title of the book?
- Were you surprised by the twist at the end of the novel? Did it make you see any of the characters in a new light? In what way?