Reader’s Guide

The following are Book Club questions provided for the purpose of stimulating conversation about the book. If you haven’t yet read the book, please don’t read the questions – SPOILER ALERT!

Feel free to contact me with any comments or suggestions. I’m always happy to hear from my readers. Enjoy!

1. Seth and his fellow first-year medical students like to call each other by their “future doctor names.” What does this say about Seth’s view of what it means to be a doctor, and how does his view change by the end of the book?

2. In what ways were Seth and April’s relationship in trouble from the moment they graduated college? How can college relationships best survive the transition to “the real world”?

3. Sujay, Jan, Margaret, and Seth each respond differently to performing a pelvic exam on Ms. Blackwell. In what ways do their actions help to define their characters?

4. How reasonable was it for Seth to take primary responsibility for the crumping of Baby Ali? Is his reaction more of a healthy self-assessment or an unhealthy conceit?

5. Why does Seth try so hard to make his relationship with April work despite clearly recognizing that he and April are drifting apart? How does this tie into his fear that he’ll change as a person during medical school?

6. Dr. Goldberger compliments Seth because he “didn’t get frazzled” after successfully interacting with a difficult parent. In what other situations throughout the book does Seth not get frazzled with positive results? In what ways does his being frazzled in his personal life help Seth become more empathetic?

7. Seth meets Abby and finds her “nothing short of stunning,” yet he pursues a fling with the less compatible Michelle instead. What does this say about Seth’s emotional state? Was his primary motivation loneliness, fear, or something else?

8. In his OB/gyn and internal medicine rotations, Seth meets resident physicians who take excellent care of their patients yet say truly horrible things. What level of gallows humor is reasonable in the hospital, and when does it go too far?

9. After solving the mystery of Ms. Elliot’s refractory asthma, Seth experiences a moment when he realizes what direction he wants his career to take. Describe the moments in your life that have most provided clarity for you in your own career path.

10. The medical world is hierarchical, and nowhere is this more deeply entrenched than on the surgical service. Does Seth overstep when he questions the chief surgical resident’s management of the patients? How extreme would a situation have to be before you would risk everything in order to help someone in need? Is it acceptable to employ deceit in order to do the right thing?

11. When Seth suggests to Mr. Smith that he use Seth’s his first name instead of call him Dr. Levine, Mr. Smith rejects the idea. What does this say about the different ways Mr. Smith and Seth view their relationship? What does this say about how the two men view their place in the world?

12. The most romantic scene between Seth and April takes place after they have broken up. Later, Seth has an epiphany about love while in a smutty sex club. What other scenes provide stark contrast? How do these contrasts play into the overall theme of the book?

13. Margaret Jones remains Seth’s nemesis throughout the book, yet they both independently choose to be kind at the moments when they needed each other’s support the most. How has a frenemy come through for you?

14. Seth recognizes a strong connection with Abby for two years before he finally reaches out to her. In what ways has he changed over these two years that he finally feels this is possible? Do you think there’s hope for their relationship after medical school? How might Seth and Abby’s post-medical school relationship differ from Seth and April’s post-college relationship?