Reading Group Guide
1. Jane Green’s novel, Another Piece of My Heart, opens with an anonymous quote: “Happiness is not having what you want, but wanting what you have.” What exactly does this mean? How does it apply to Andi? To Emily? To other characters in the book? Would you say the quote applies to your life? How?
2. As the novel so vividly portrays, being part of a blended family can be extremely challenging. What are some of the mistakes Andi and Ethan make? What should they have done differently? What are some of the challenges that you and your own family have faced together?
3. From the beginning, Ethan’s younger daughter, Sophia, is very accepting of Andi, while his adolescent daughter, Emily, is resentful and rude. When it comes to dealing with big issues like divorce and second marriages, do you think it’s harder for younger children or for teenagers? How is it different, and why?
4. After five years of living together as a family, Andi still feels uncomfortable confronting or disciplining Emily—mostly because Ethan is a defensive dad. Do you think most parents are overprotective and blind to their children’s faults? Do you believe “it takes a village” to raise a child—or it’s none of your business? Have you ever given and/or received child-rearing advice? How did it go?
5. The author describes the relationship between Andi and Emily as “a pendulum swinging from love to hate.” Have you experienced anything like that in your own family? Is it normal or acceptable for teenagers to “hate” their parents or stepparents? Should you simply wait for the child to “grow out of it” or try to actively deal with the problem? How?
6. Andi’s neighbors tell her that “Ethan feels constantly guilty” about his divorce and its impact on his children—which is why he lets Emily get away with so much bad behavior. Emily, in turn, seems to take advantage of his guilt. Have you ever felt guilty over something that affects your family? Have you ever felt manipulated by a loved one?
7. Andi notices some dramatic differences between the home she grew up in and the family she married into—especially when it comes to setting “boundaries” with children. Do you think parenting has changed in recent years? Are parents more lenient today? Are children more spoiled? Would you raise a child the same way you were raised, or would you do it differently?
8. After Ethan tells Andi that he doesn’t want to adopt a child, he feels her pull away from him, as if “a switch has been flicked” in their relationship. Is he justified in his feelings on the subject of adoption, or is he being selfish? Is Andi justified in her feelings? What sort of things can change the way you feel about a loved one?
9. Nearly halfway through the book, the author begins to write some of the chapters from Emily’s first-person point of view. Why? How does each character’s point of view play a role in the story? Which character’s point of view do you relate to the most? Which character do you relate to the least?
10. Andi, Brooke, and Emily represent three types of mothers. How are they different? How are they alike? Does Emily have the right to call herself Cal’s “mother” after leaving him with Andi for three years? Do you think Andi has a legal right to have full custody? And, at some point in the future, do you think Emily should be able to get her child back?
11. What does it mean to be a “real mother”?
Another Piece of My Heart
- Publication Date: February 12, 2013
- Genres: Fiction
- Paperback: 416 pages
- Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
- ISBN-10: 0312604165
- ISBN-13: 9780312604165