Reading Group Guide

lg_wasit_cover_buyREADING GROUP GUIDE

  1. Some reviewers have compared this book to a Jane Austen novel. Austen’s novels clearly reflected the middle-class values of her time. What values are most important to the people of this book? Decide on five and list them in order of importance.
  2. Does this novel use the classic love story plot of Boy meets Girl, Boy gets Girl, Boy loses Girl, Boy gets Girl? Can you identify where each major change in the relationship occurs?
  3. Do you think it’s significant that Barry and Justine begin their relationship in a plane crash? Is it symbolic?
  4. In what ways does author Valerie Block reveal Barry’s character? What does his love of Beatles music show about him? Why do you think Justine is so attached to the film, The Sound of Music?
  5. In what ways are Justine and Barry different? In what ways are they similar?
  6. Is it important that Justine and Barry are Jewish? Is it essential to the story, or just a superficial element? In the same way, the story takes place in New York. Would it work just as well in Chicago?
  7. Do you think Barry and Justine have a better chance at sustaining their relationship than their parents did?
  8. A subplot revolves around Pippa and Vince, who don’t end up together. Why not?
  9. Vince, who has a major role early in the book, fades out of the novel. Do you think this is a flaw?
  10. What is the significance of the death of Justine’s grandmother, Miriam? How does it change Justine?
  11. At the end of Chapter 17, what is the meaning of the last line, “God was a research psychologist, and he, Barry, was clearly in the control group”?
  12. Why do you think this book is titled “Was It Something I Said?” What makes this novel so much fun to read?

Recent Posts

Word of Mouth, Quarantine Edition

Prior to the advent of Covid-19, I was about 70% through the first draft of a novel about a virus, an anger virus. Looking back on what I wrote, I am stunned by how mild and self-contained the virus I created was. I am currently too busy  panic cleaning, home schooling and hand washing to do much about the novel, but in the process of doing research into epidemiology and vaccines, I came across several books that helped me understand how viruses work, and thought now would be an excellent time to recommend them.

If you have it in you to learn more about how microscopic pathogens can upend the globe, here are four fascinating books that helped me understand. If you’ve had enough pathogens, skip ahead to the ESCAPE section. And wash your hands!

ENGAGE:

Memoir about a pandemic (small pox) with a happy ending: Sometimes Brilliant:The Impossible Adventure of a Spiritual Seeker and Visionary Physician Who Helped Conquer the Worst Disease in History, by Larry Brilliant

Thematic treatment of how pathogens develop and mutate, and what is necessary for them to thrive: Pandemic: Tracking Contagions, From Cholera to Ebola and Beyond, by Sonia Shah

A history of how vaccines were discovered, and how they work: Between Hope and Fear: A History of Vaccines and Human Immunity, by Michael Kinch

How cholera seized and changed London, seen through the efforts of a pioneering physician and a connected local priest: The Ghost Map: The Story of London’s Most Terrifying Epidemic–and How It Changed Science, Cities, and the Modern World— Steven Johnson

ESCAPE:

TV: Agents of ShieldMaurissa Tancharoen, Jed Whedon, Joss Whedon. Netflix

TV: Episodes — David Crane and Jeffrey Klarik. Amazon. 

TV: False Flag — Maria Feldman, Amit Cohen. Hulu.

TV: Imposters – Paul Adelstein and Adam Brooks. Netflix. 

MOVIE: Yesterday –Danny Boyle. HBO.

TV: MarpleAgatha Christie. Hulu.

FICTION: The Safety Net — Andrea Camilleri

Not-so-ancient wisdom:

“It’s not enough that we do our best; sometimes we have to do what is required.”

Winston Churchill

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