- The Protagonist
- Describe your initial reaction to:
- The Preface: which of the target audiences do you identify with, if any?
- The Annotated Table of Contents: how do you feel about the subtitles?
- The Introduction: how well does it frame the story?
- The Epilogue: did you skip to it, and if yes, when and why? If not, how do you think reading through the entire book affected your “arrival” – that is, your thought process – at the epilogue, compared to if you had skipped to it?
- Which chapter was your favourite and why? Which chapter was your least favourite chapter and why?
- Describe the role the pandemic plays in this story. Which parts would likely have been different if the backdrop had been a pre-pandemic one, and why?
- Discuss how the author’s outlook on life and mental health state change over the course of eight months. How does she confront her own mortality? Which support systems – healthy and unhealthy – does she rely on, when and why?
- The author frequently refers to her “inner child”, adult persona (“Dr. Barb”), and “main guide”. How do these three characters shape her story individually, and together?
- Given that the author is a music historian by training, discuss whether her “Life is good” comment qualifies as literary Leitmotif of sorts or not.
- Do you agree with the author’s “Lessons learned” as identified in the Epilogue?
- Were there other lessons not identified or implied in previous chapters? If yes, which ones? If not, which ones were you expecting to read about?
- Overall, what surprised you the most about the protagonist’s cancer journey or contracted your previously held conceptions?
- The Antagonist(s)
- Who and/or what is/are the antagonist in this story? Discuss their impact on the storyline.
B. STRUCTURE AND WRITING STYLE
- Describe how the author structured her memoir – what works well? What could be improved?
- How would you describe the author’s writing style in general? What sets it apart from other assigned readings for this class or other narratives of illness?
- What literary devices are used to describe events of the past, present, and future? When are they most effective?
- How do you feel about the author’s decision to avoid giving the real names of people who are part of her story? What would you have done in her place?
- Did you appreciate the embedded online links, or would the book have been just fine without it? What about the pictures the author included?
C. OPEN EDUCATION RESOURCE
- Would you have preferred a properly published (that is, printed and bound) copy of this book? If yes, why? If not, why not?
- Would it work well as an audio book or podcast?