- 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.
- 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?
- Do you think it’s significant that Barry and Justine begin their relationship in a plane crash? Is it symbolic?
- 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?
- In what ways are Justine and Barry different? In what ways are they similar?
- 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?
- Do you think Barry and Justine have a better chance at sustaining their relationship than their parents did?
- A subplot revolves around Pippa and Vince, who don’t end up together. Why not?
- Vince, who has a major role early in the book, fades out of the novel. Do you think this is a flaw?
- What is the significance of the death of Justine’s grandmother, Miriam? How does it change Justine?
- 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”?
- Why do you think this book is titled “Was It Something I Said?” What makes this novel so much fun to read?
NON-FICTION: The Sum of Us: What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper Together — Heather McGhee FICTION: Gold Diggers — Sanjena Sathian FICTION: Impostor Syndrome — Kathy Wang MEMOIR: Beautiful Country — Xian Julie Wang ESSAYS: People Love … Continue reading
This essay appeared in JEW-ISH: True Stories of Love, Latkes and L’Chaim, from READ 650. One Saturday some years ago, while visiting Toronto with my husband and mother-in-law, I saw a group of Orthodox Jews, two bearded men and roughly … Continue reading
Liberation, Elevation, Education: Farming While Black: Soul Fire Farm’s Practical Guide to Liberation on the Land—Leah Penniman Essays: The Book of Delights — Ross Gay Fiction: The Farm — Tom Rob Smith Middle-grade novel: Merci Suárez Changes Gears — … Continue reading
On Peace of Mind, X: Knowing to what sorrows we were born, there is nothing for which Nature more deserves our thanks than for having invented habit as an alleviation of misfortune, which soon accustoms us to the severest evils. … Continue reading
CIV. ON CARE OF HEALTH AND PEACE OF MIND Suppose that you hold wealth to be a good: poverty will then distress you, and, —which is most pitiable,— it will be an imaginary poverty. For you may be rich, and … Continue reading
IX: On Philosophy and Friendship
These are the so-called “fair-weather” friendships; one who is chosen for the sake of utility will be satisfactory only so long as he is useful. Hence prosperous men are blockaded by troops of friends; but those who have failed stand amid vast loneliness, their friends fleeing from the very crisis which is to test their worth. Hence, also, we notice those many shameful cases of persons who, through fear, desert or betray. The beginning and the end cannot but harmonize. He who begins to be your friend because it pays will also cease because it pays.
Seneca Epistles 1-65, by Lucius Annaeus Seneca the Younger. Translation by Richard Gummere. Loeb Classical Library.