This reading group guide for Comeback Love includes discussion questions intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.
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Topics & Questions for Discussion
1. What do you think Comeback Love
is saying about first loves, and about long-term commitments? Is love all about timing?
2. Glenna is actively and successfully pursuing a respected career, while Gordon is somewhat fumbling his way through his education and pursuing his own professional dream. How much does this influence their dynamic?
3. What did you make of Gordon’s relationship with his father? How do you think their bond affected Gordon’s relationship with his own son, Alex?
4. Gordon’s mother says, “‘I don’t dislike Glenna. But I love you, and she’s a girl like your sister, and they . . . they hurt men.’”
(p. 65) Do you think that, ultimately, Glenna hurts Gordon—or do they mutually hurt each other?
5. What precisely does Gordon’s mother mean when she says that Glenna is a girl like Elaine? How would you describe Gordon’s relationship with his sister? Does he ever come to see the similarities that his mother sees?
6. Describing his relationships since Glenna, Gordon admits, “‘ I never trusted enough to feel that way about anyone else.’”
(p. 218) Do you feel that this is something that always happens after first love, or was their relationship uniquely transformative?
7. How would you describe the marriage between Glenna’s parents? How does it compare to the one Gordon’s parents share? Do you think their respective models of relationships impact how Glenna and Gordon’s own romance evolves?
8. “[It] would be some time before I understood that this was precisely the problem, the beginning of our end, that Glenna loved me. So much.”
(p. 109) Do you agree with Gordon’s assessment that this moment signified an unraveling? And why is Glenna’s love for Gordon the problem?
9. Consider the circumstances (psychological and logistical) that lead Gordon and Robin to sleep together. Do you think Glenna knew this might happen when she suggested that the two of them go to Woodstock without her? Were you surprised by this outcome?
10. What do you think prompted Gordon’s father to bring the family and Glenna to Zalman’s restaurant? How were these motives different from those that drive Gordon to return to New York to see Glenna?
11. Consider the ways in which Comeback Love
is simultaneously a timeless story of first love, while also being very much a story of its time. How do current events (in both the past and present sections) inform the action of the narrative and the development of the plot?
12. “‘This could be my child.’ ‘Our child,’ I corrected her. She shook her head, unwilling to concede that this was about me too. I could have the blame for knocking her up, not the credit.”
(p. 202). Who did you empathize with here—Glenna or Gordon?
13. Discuss why Gordon failed to submit his Selective Service form. Do you think he wanted to go to Vietnam, or did he want to escape New York? How are these two desires different?
14. Imagine you are the casting director for the film version of Comeback Love.
Who would you cast as young Gordon and young Glenna? Who would play them in the present-day scenes?