The Preservationist, A Reader's Guide
Reading Group Questions and Topics for Discussion
1. Why do you think Julia is initially attracted to Sam? What does this say about her personality? Do her reasons change over the course of the book?
2. The second chapter of the novel introduces us to Sam. The first paragraph of this chapter ends with the sentence, "Who didn't want to keep a good thing going as long as he could?" Why is Sam so interested in preserving things? What does this say about his motivations in the novel? What makes him act the way he does?
3. There is an epigraph to the novel from Banana Yoshimoto that reads, "Death isn't sad. What hurts is being drowned by these emotions." How do you feel this quote relates to the book? Each of the three main characters has experienced a major loss. How are their attitudes toward death and loss different and how are they the same? How do the themes of death and loss play out over the course of the novel?
4. When we're introduced to Marcus in chapter 13, we discover that Julia's similarity to a girl from his past causes him to experience a great deal of emotional turmoil. Do you think that Marcus's character was shaped by what happened with Tree? Or do you think he would have been the same person regardless?
5. We get glimpses into the family lives and childhoods of all three major characters? How would you characterize the different families we see? Would you say that the novel takes a certain view about family or its importance in people's adult lives?
6. Why do you think the author chooses to explore the thoughts of all three major characters? How would the book be different if it were told only from Julia's point of view? Or only Sam's? Or Marcus's?
7. Would you say that the novel offers an overall view of love? Or would you say that there isn't one singular view expressed?
8. What other thrillers and suspense novels or movies would you compare this book to? How is it similar to or different from other novels you've read in this genre?