SHOUT HER LOVELY NAME

By Natalie Serber
Houghton Mifflin HarcourtJune 2013
www.houghtonmifflinbooks.com
www.natalieserber.com

Trade Paperback240 pages, $13.95, ISBN: 9780544002210
Subject: Coming of Age / Family / Relationships

  1. The first story in Shout Her Lovely Name deals with a mother trying to make sense of a disease that is tearing her family apart. Why do you think our society, when looking at eating and body image issues, tends to point to the mother as the responsible party? Or do you feel this may not be true? Why do the mother and father react differently to their daughter's disease?
  2. The author chose to include several images in her story. What role do you think imagery plays in the telling of this story?
  3. What does the story say about the wider implications of eating disorders in American society? Why do you think the author began the collection with this particular story?
  4. In “Ruby Jewel,” Ruby seems to have undergone changes during her time away at college that are evident to her family and the people in her town. Describe an experience in which you’ve felt removed from the community you grew up in.
  5. Do you think Ruby’s father influenced the type of man she chose to pursue romantic relationships with later in life?
  6. Why do you think Ruby ignored her missed periods for so long? Do you think she was in denial or genuinely did not think that she was pregnant? Why do you think she engages in such reckless behavior after she finds out she’s pregnant?
  7. Why do you think Marco and Ruby decide to move to Manhattan, away from their families?
  8. One of the other new mothers in the hospital tells Ruby, “Una hija will never leave you. Girls stick together.” Do you think there is any truth to that statement? Are daughters more loyal to their mothers than sons?
  9. The narrator of “This Is So Not Me” is married to a much older man. Do you think that it’s possible to have an egalitarian relationship with a person who is significantly older than you?
  10. In the story “Manx,” Ruby goes on a date with Dr. Shapiro and doesn’t return until the following day, much to the chagrin of their next-door neighbor, who proceeds to lecture Ruby on responsibility. Do you think society looks down upon single mothers who choose to pursue romantic relationships while raising children?
  11. In “Take Your Daughter to Work,” why do you think Elena went to Ruby’s house when she was in trouble? Do you think Ruby is a better teacher than parent? If so, why?
  12. What do you think finally spurred Nora to see her father? Do you think Nora regrets reconnecting with her father? Do you think their relationship continued after their initial meeting?
  13. Do you think it’s possible for parents to have a relationship with their children after missing their childhood? Do you think it’s better for parents to stay together for the sake of a child even if they aren’t in love?
  14. In the story “Rate My Life,” Nora tries out some irresponsible behaviors. Do you think she is mirroring her mother’s raison d’être? How does skipping finals, taking LSD, and staying at Butterfly Beach with Aaron serve her? Or does it?
  15. Cassie seems to be experiencing some existential crisis in her life. What do you think set her on this path of ennui and discontent?
  16. Have you ever had to redefine yourself vis-à-vis the needs of your family, your work, and your relationships?
  17. Many of the relationships portrayed throughout the collection are strained, and yet there is an undercurrent of love and desire to care for one another, hence the epigraph from Joni Mitchell. Do you think the stories are a fair representation of family life?
  18. Some people think stories and novels about family and relationships are the territory of “women’s” fiction. Do you agree that literature is gender-specific?

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