1. Many of the book’s characters mirror each other—Jack vs. Joe as unfaithful husbands; Joe and Claire, who both use sex as a commodity; Pearl and Willa, the orphaned daughters; Maggie and Candace, the wronged wives. Why does the author choose to use this device? What do we learn about the characters by comparing and contrasting their similarities and differences?
2. Joe defends his work in pornography saying he is simply making a living. How do you feel about pornography? Is his position defensible?
3. Why is Maggie so cowed by Jack? Why does she continue to help him cover up his crimes not once but twice? Is she a victim of circumstance or of her own actions?
4. A feminist theme runs throughout the book. How do you feel about the author’s depictions of feminism? Do today’s young women need or care about equality of the sexes? Is feminism still relevant in today’s society?
5. The book’s title could refer to any or all of the book’s female characters. Why do you think the author chose this title?
6. During Candace’s meeting with Nate, she refers to Willa’s biological parents as indigents. He responds, “We’re told certain things, information that pushes us into tidy categories, but they’re just words. We’re rarely told the whole story and the story is always changing.” Considering Candace’s checkered past, is it fair of her to stereotype him?
7. Claire is drawn to Nate and Joe, two very different men who are, respectively, Willa’s biological and adoptive fathers. Why did the author choose to connect the men via both Claire and Willa?
8. Jack is clearly the story’s villain, yet the author attempts to explain his actions by revealing details about his traumatic childhood. Do these passages make you feel sympathetic towards him?
9. How do you feel about the book’s conclusion?