November Book Club Pick

In today’s episode, we’re discussing our November Book Club pick, Wild Game: My Mother, Her Lover, and Me by Adrienne Brodeur. This is possibly one of our favorite books that we’ve both read and we can’t wait to hear what you guys think of it! First though, it’s time for our weekly love and hate.

Weekly Love and Hate

Christine Love: my faith in people (raising money for family) 
Lindsay Love: Seeing everyone help Christine 
*If you’d like to help donate to help this family, please message me christine@simplystine.com. You can also view my IG stories and see my highlights that I’ve saved with more information!

Christine Hate: I need a new pillow and everything I’ve tried I hate. My neck and shoulders ache
Lindsay Hate: My bank changed and having to reset everything… 

Wild Game: My Mother, Her Lover, and Me by Adrienne Brodeur

Our November Book Club pick is all about a dysfunctional family and we thought what better way to prepare for the holidays than with this book! It’s honestly fascinating and very eye opening. The relationship between a mother and her daughter can be so difficult. Well, this book puts difficult on a whole new level.

On a hot July night on Cape Cod when Adrienne was 14, her mother, Malabar, woke her at midnight with five simple words that would set the course of both of their lives for years to come: Ben Souther just kissed me.    

Adrienne instantly became her mother’s confidante and helpmate, blossoming in the sudden light of her attention, and from then on, Malabar came to rely on her daughter to help orchestrate what would become an epic affair with her husband’s closest friend. The affair would have calamitous consequences for everyone involved, impacting Adrienne’s life in profound ways, driving her into a precarious marriage of her own, and then into a deep depression. Only years later will she find the strength to embrace her life – and her mother – on her own terms.    

November Book Club Discussion Questions:

  • What did you think of the book? 
  • How does sharing a secret create a false sense of intimacy, when in fact it is often a burden placed on someone? How do secrets keep us from being known? (From the author)
  • Are we all destined to become our parents in some way, shape, or form? (From the author)
  • What do we learn about the author from how she tells her tale — both what she chooses to tell and the tone of voice in which she tells it? Is this a story about her mother’s misbehavior, or about something else?
  • Revisit the Mary Oliver Poem,”The Uses of Sorrow,” that serves as an epigraph to the book. Do you see the darknesses in your own life as gifts, or would you wish some of them away? Is growth possible without suffering? Consider Margot’s advice to Rennie that happiness is a choice. Is gratitude in the face of life’s difficulties a habit of mind we can choose to cultivate?
  • Malabar makes life more interesting for everyone, including us as readers. Do you feel a little bewitched by her charms? Would she be as compelling without her flaws? Do you admire her? If so, in what ways?
  • How does Malabar upend traditional roles for women, and how does she subscribe to them? How has her mother Vivian’s influence shaped her sense of identity, as well as her relationships with other women? Rennie’s friend Kyra diagnoses Malabar as lonely, and says that loneliness is about not being known for who you are. Does Malabar know herself?
  • Compare Ben’s conduct during the affair to Malabar’s. Who do you feel more sympathy for? When you look at all the adult characters in the book, is there a villain in this story? 
  • Rennie is a victim of harm, a beneficiary of kindness, and an actor — for good and ill — in other people’s lives. Which of these roles does she have the most difficulty acknowledging? Do we learn more about how to live from our parents’ mistakes or from what they do right?
  • “Understandable but not acceptable” becomes Jack and Rennie’s mantra in light of the affair. Where does Rennie demonstrate that she doesn’t accept her mother’s behavior? Do you think she might hold her mother more accountable? Who is helped more by forgiveness: the forgiven or the forgiver?
  • How does Rennie’s involvement in her mother’s deception hurt her relationship with herself? And how does it damage her relationships with other people in her life? By the end of the book, have all the wounded relationships been healed?
  • Rennie manages to separate from her mother, assume ownership of her own life, and chart a new path. What are her strengths, and how do we see her using them first to help her mother, and later, using them as a force for good in her own life? What other resources does she employ to help her become the person she wants to be? Does she inspire you to address aspects of your own life that are holding you back?
  • Rennie has two experiences where time collapses and the layers of her past rush in: just before her wedding and after she gives birth to her daughter (pp. 176, 223). What do these moments do for her? Have you had a similar experience that has granted you a profound glimpse of your life?
  • Is it fair of Malabar to demand that Rennie never sell the necklace? Which verdict of an appraisal would be worse: for the necklace to be valuable or valueless? Would you do as Rennie does and avoid the question? Is there an heirloom in your family that’s been divisive?

Book club questions courtesy of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Book Club Resources

Book Club Questions 

Wild Game Book Club Kit

New York Times interview with Adrienne Brodeur  

Don’t Forget

December Book Club: Little Women. Our episode will go live on December 18. And that will be our last episode of the year.  (affiliate link) 

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We hoped you loved our November Book Club Pick and we hope that you’ll join us for our December pick as well! Any books that you’d like us to consider? Please let us know!

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