Safe with Me
Washington Square Press, 9781476704418, 352pp.
Publication Date: March 4, 2014
About the Author
Conversation Starters from ReadingGroupChoices.com
Consider the title of the novel, and the idea of safety—both of a physical and emotional nature—in the story. Who is keeping whom safe in this book?
If you had been in Hannah’s position, do you think you could have donated your child’s organs? Why or why not?
Did Olivia and James’s relationship change how you viewed domestic abuse? Does Olivia match your vision of an abuse victim?
What is the book saying about the relationship between one’s physical exterior and their emotional and psycho- logical state? How does each character try to project an outward appearance that is different from their internal feelings?
Read the novel’s epigraph as a group. What does the concept of destiny, or fate, mean to you?
Olivia has many reasons for not leaving James, not the least of which are financial. Consider the power dynamics at play in their marriage. How does James make Olivia feel helpless—and how does he also make her feel special?
Dishonesty is a theme throughout the novel. Do you think that there are degrees of dishonesty? For example, is there a difference between fabricating a story and obscuring the truth? What qualifies as lying? And is dishonesty that has good intentions more excusable?
Turn to page 177, and as a group, read the scene where James brings Olivia breakfast in bed. Can you empathize with Olivia’s thinking that, “even though she knows better, even though she’s been through this with him a hundred times before, Olivia can’t help but wonder if she really needs to leave him after all.”
Maddie’s experience at the mall with Hailey and her friends highlights the perils of being a teenage girl. Do you have any memories from this age that are similar? Do you think the challenges of being an adolescent girl have inherently changed?
On page 182, Olivia acknowledges that she worries some- times, “that Maddie spends so much time interacting with what other people’s imaginations have dreamed up that she’ll never learn to imagine things on her own.” For those of you who have children, do you worry about this as well?
Discuss the role that technology plays in this narrative. In what ways does it have an empowering, connective impact? In what ways does it have a distancing effect?