Appendix – Leading Reading Questions


  1. 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?
  1. The Antagonist(s)
  • Who and/or what is/are the antagonist in this story? Discuss their impact on the storyline.


  • 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?


  • 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?


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Appendix – Leading Reading Questions Copyright © 2021 by Barbara Reul is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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