IF YOU HAVE NOT READ THE BOOKS, PLEASE NOTE THAT THERE ARE SPOILERS IN THE DISCUSSION QUESTIONS BELOW.
Discussion Questions for Slammed by Colleen Hoover
- A very lovely song called I and Love and You, written by the Avett Brothers uses the lyric, “One foot in and one foot back, But it don’t pay to live like that, So I cut the ties and jumped the track, For never to return.” How does this lyric inform the emotional and spiritual place the readers discover Layken at in the beginning of Slammed? Does she need to be at a place of cleaving herself from her old life to embark on a new life?
2. Lake and Will are immediately attracted to each other upon meeting. Kel and Caulder and Lake and Eddie are similarly immediately bonded, striking up a deep friendship. What is it about someone else that creates mutual attraction? Did you know/recognize your soul mate immediately upon meeting him/her? Do you believe in love (both romantic and friendship) at first sight?
3. Lake and Will share their first date at a poetry slam in which Will is called upon to perform a very revealing and raw piece about the death of his parents and the aftermath that event had upon his life. However, he and Lake have not yet shared the banal details of their lives. Was it easier for Will to share the deeper elements of his life before he shared the biographical details? Why or why not?
4. Did Will act inappropriately in assuming that Lake was a college student and not a high school student? What should he have done differently once this truth was revealed? What was Lake’s responsibility in this situation? Did Will, as the adult in a position of trust, have a greater burden in divesting himself from Lake? What should the players have done differently?
5. Will and Lake experience significant pushes and pulls while trying to avoid one another. Should they have made attempts to stay away from each other or just maintained their relationship in private? Is it possible to be “just friends” with someone for whom you have deeper feelings? Is it better to cut off the relationship completely?
6. Lake equates the sorrow of not having Will in her life to the Elizabeth Kübler-Ross Steps of Grief. Is the loss of a relationship a death of sorts? In your experience, does the loss of first love feel like a death? Do subsequent losses feel as intense as the loss of first love?
7. Julia reveals that her health is in crisis and the move to Michigan was planned before Lake’s dad’s death. Why do you think she kept such information under wraps for so long? Did she do the right thing? Is full disclosure the right policy in every situation? How do you think she should have handled this differently?
8. It becomes clear that Lake is going to be Kel’s guardian in a twist of fate similar to Will’s fate. Was she right to refuse Will’s advances with the insistence that “she is first” in his life? Could she have made similar assurances to him, had he demanded them, at that moment? Was she being fair to ask that of him? How are those demands different to those asked by Vaughn two years prior?
9. Lyrics, poetry, and quotes figure prominently in Slammed’s narrative. What makes a poetic line powerful or meaningful? Was Will’s poetry to Lake any more important or better than her dad’s poetry to her mom? What’s the point of poetry if the poetry doesn’t have points? What are the elements that lead readers (or listeners) to regard a line as good or bad? Is there a line that is particularly important to you in your life?
Point of Retreat by Colleen Hoover
- While Lake is the narrator of Slammed, Will is the narrator of Point of Retreat. How do their perspectives serve the story? Did the character who served as the voice of the narrative earn more or less sympathy from you? Do you understand the protagonists better having “seen” them through both lenses?
2. Point of Retreat finds Lake and Will one year into their relationship. They very much have a shared life and household distributed between two houses, with shared day care, meals, and entertaining. Did your predictions at the end of Slammed come to fruition? Were there any surprises? Disappointments?
3. Lake and Will promised Julia that they would wait a year before becoming sexual with one another. Do you understand their abstinence? Did waiting ultimately help their relationship? Did they place too much emphasis upon sex in “waiting for the perfect time?” Likewise, should they have moved in with each other?
4. Lake and Will struggle with balancing their relationships with Caulder and Kel, measuring their reactions to situations as parents and siblings. How successful are they with this balance? Do their reactions to the trouble they run into at school jibe with more sibling-like or parental reactions?
5. Sherry describes her youthful first love as having the same kind of magic that Lake and Will have. However, that relationship did not end well. Is true love necessary to happiness? Is it better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all? How has true love impacted your life? Does the magic last? Does is have to last in order to insure happiness?
6. Julia leaves Will and Lake with a vase filled with pearls of wisdom. The wisdom figures prominently within the plot and helps to guide Will and Lake. What was the best piece of advice you were ever given? Who is the wisest person you know? How have they impacted your decision making?
7. Will and Lake, for better or worse, are joined by and due to their devastating losses. Lake is concerned that this is their common ground that joins them. Is she right to be concerned? Is there something to be said for sharing similar experiences? Are they better equipped to deal with each other because they have parallel lives and responsibilities? Are they more capable of happiness because they both experienced such sorrow?
8. Vaughn discovers Will in a shared class and it becomes clear that she is interested in rekindling a relationship with him. Did Will proceed appropriately? Should he have been more aggressive in indicating his disinterest? Was Lake justified to feel threatened by Will’s behavior toward Vaughn?
9. Lake is injured in a devastating car accident. Was something that dramatic necessary in order to provide Will the opportunity to show Lake how much he loves her? Would his words have been good enough? Why do some need to be shown love while others need to be told love?
10. Will proposes to Lake with her mom’s wedding ring. Do you think it was important for Lake to know that Julia gave her blessing to the union?
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS FOR HOPELESS
Hopeless by Colleen Hoover
- Holder tells Sky, “Sometimes you have to choose between a bunch of wrong choices and no right ones. You just have to choose which wrong choice feels the least wrong.” Is there truth in this statement? How does this statement apply to Karen’s actions? Did she make the “least wrong” choice? Why or why not?
- The motif of the sky and stars repeats throughout “Hopeless”, especially as a token of comfort and distraction. How do stars factor in the connection between Sky and Holder?
- The use of names in Hopeless is critical in informing the essential nature of the characters. What do the names “Holder”, “Dean”, “Hope”, “Sky”, and “Les” reveal about the essential nature of their bearers?
- Sky does not recall the first five years of her life at the beginning of the story; however, her habits and preferences are shaped by her early years. Holder cannot forget his early years with Hope. How do memories shape who we are and how we react? How do memories impact Sky and Holder?
- Both Lesslie and John Davis commit suicide. Is one suicide nobler than the other? Did John give Sky a gift by killing himself when confronted? Would Sky have been able to discover the truth about her own life if Les had still been alive? Why or why not?
- Was Holder “hopeless” or simply without Hope/hope? How is he hopeless at the end of the book?
- Sky perceives herself as disconnected from Hope. Do you identify with this perception? Have events in your life changed you to the point at which you would be unrecognizable to your earlier self? Is there something about one’s essential nature that is preserved in spite of the trauma one has experienced? How does the following quote describe the synthesis of the two halves of Sky/Hope: “It’s what happens when two people become one: they no longer only share love. They also share all of the pain, heartache, sorrow, and grief.”
- At the conclusion of the story, what elements of her character embody “Sky” and which ones are a ray of “Hope”?
- Holder’s response to Sky at the outset of Hopeless was intense and he appeared to have some connection to her that she did not understand. As you were reading Hopeless, what were your working theories about their connection?
- Holder discusses his future with Sky without reservation from the very beginning of their relationship. Where do you see Holder and Sky in five years?