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Reading Group Guide

Discussion Questions

Leaving Before It's Over

1. Examples of duality in Roy’s life can be found throughout the book. He is a twin. He lives in a duplex and, in a sense, has had two distinctly different lives --- the life he had with Sherry before he left Virginia and the life he made with Rosalind. How have these physical and emotional realities shaped the kind of person Roy has become?

2. Rosalind’s illness sets the events of the book in motion. Her blood disorder causes her to feel vulnerable and, in many ways, betrayed by her own body. What actions does she take to empower herself in the face of this ordeal? Does she succeed?

3. Rosalind knew that Roy was married when she met him and yet she let herself fall in love. Based on their behavior, would you say Roy committed adultery with her? How has the lingering guilt over their actions affected Rosalind?

4. In a similar fashion, Roy was tortured to find that he desired Rosalind, feelings that ran contrary to his own integrity and principles. Later, it is revealed that Roy’s first marriage was never what it seemed, even to Roy. Do you believe Roy might have sensed something in his relationship with Sherry that gave him permission to love Rosalind, or did he simply allow his heart to override his sense of right and wrong?

5. Rosalind is considered by others to be beautiful, even though she never seems to reflect on this herself. The treatment for her illness will make her less physically attractive for as long as she takes the medication. Does her response to this reveal an underlying insecurity, or even vanity, in Rosalind? How do you think her physical appearance determined her choices in life and the confidence with which she approached them? How might this change when she looks very different?

6. Early on, Lola makes the observation that she lives in “half of a half-empty duplex.” During the course of the narrative, she gains a “brother” as well as neighbors next door. How does Lola change as her world expands in this way?

7. After initially opposing Luke’s presence in North Carolina, both Roy and Rosalind eventually decide that they should try to give Luke a home with unconditional support. This contrasts with what Roy believes the boy’s situation has been in Virginia. Do you believe that Roy and Rosalind are truly selfless in this decision? What needs might Luke fulfill in their lives and what does he offer to the family?

8. Mont’s political ambitions form the foundation for his marriage to Della. Based on what is seen of his early life, did this ambition simply take over Mont’s soul or do you believe that he was born a person incapable of love and caring? Do you believe he loves Luke?

9. Nanny is initially portrayed as a person driven by religious zealotry and unchecked ambition for at least one of her sons. As revelations show her actions to be even more outside the realm of normal --- reaching what many would consider true mental illness --- does this increase or decrease sympathy for her as a character?

10. Has Luke’s interaction with Roy’s family reached him in time to influence the kind of adult he will become?

11. In the beginning of the narrative, Mont and Nanny have been deceiving Luke about the identity of his biological father. Later, for very different reasons, Roy and Rosalind continue to perpetuate the lie. Is anyone justified in making this decision, or do you think Luke should have been told that Mont is his father, regardless of the consequences that might follow that revelation?

Leaving Before It's Over
by Jean Reynolds Page

  • Publication Date: August 10, 2010
  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
  • ISBN-10: 0061876925
  • ISBN-13: 9780061876929