Karen Siplin-Schwartz
Such A Girl by Karen Siplin

Reading Group Guide

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Such a Girl

Reading Group Guide

  1. As PBX operators, Kendall and her coworkers eavesdrop on the phone calls of unsuspecting hotel guests as a substitute for office gossip. In Kendall's position, would you do the same? What if the hotel guests were Denzel Washington, Brad Pitt, Julia Roberts and Halle Berry? Did Kendall's choice to eavesdrop affect the way you viewed her throughout the book?

  2. Unlike her friends, Kendall seems to be unimpressed by status, yet she's fascinated by the lives of the celebrities in the hotel. How does this contradiction fit into the underlying theme of the novel?

  3. After witnessing the Texan litter in a nightclub bathroom, Kendall loses interest in him. Why? Do you think her reaction to the Texan had anything to do with Jack?

  4. Gary, Amy and Nick play an important role in Kendall's life and have had a lot of influence on the choices she's made in the past. Do you think Kendall's relationship with them has changed since college? Despite what she says, does Kendall hold them responsible for her breakup with Jack?

  5. Jack has changed significantly since his days as a college student. His current lifestyle is in complete contrast to Kendall's current lifestyle, yet they still seem to be attracted to each other. What do you believe would have happened if Kendall had disregarded her friends' advice to dump Jack in college? Would they still be together?

  6. Jack quotes Nelson Mandela when he says "There's nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find the ways in which you yourself have altered." In what way is Jack altered? In what ways have Kendall and her friends remained unchanged? Does Jack have a right to be angry with them after so many years? If so, why?

  7. Though Rae is a minor character in the book, she represents the type of hotel guest Kendall despises. Was the author's decision to make Rae an impossible guest a good one? Did Rae's presence help you understand Kendall's bitterness toward the guests she has to deal with on a daily basis?

  8. What did you think of Jack's decision to use Rae to get back at Kendall? Do you believe he was genuinely sorry once Kendall confronted him about it? Was he able to redeem himself in the end? Was Kendall wrong to forgive him?

  9. Early in the novel Kendall and Gary are introduced to their new noisy neighbors. In what ways do Kendall's obstacles at home begin to parallel her obstacles at work? Who handles the neighbor situation better: Kendall or Gary? Explain your choice.

  10. During all of her encounters with Betty Blacksmith, Kendall remains stoic and defiant until their last argument when Betty calls her "nothing." Why does this incident strike a chord? When Kendall asks why people are so cruel, what does Jack mean when he says "Because you know what we are and we don't want witnesses"?

  11. The author has said one of the reasons she incorporated the co-op board storyline into the book is so readers will ask themselves why people who own their apartments believe they're superior to their neighbors who don't. Have you ever encountered this type of class difference? What are your thoughts on the co-op board mentality?

  12. Nick's problem with parents is their propensity to treat children like "short adults." Do you believe his observation is justified? Were the children in Kendall and Gary's building being short, manipulative adults or were they just being children? Should a parent take a child's word over an adult's?

  13. Kendall and Kirk have an extremely antagonistic relationship, yet when Kirk must fire three operators, he does not choose Kendall. Why do you think Kirk chose not to fire her? What do you think of Kendall's reaction to the firings?

  14. How has Kendall changed by the end of the novel? Did her decision to be with Jack surprise you?

  15. Where do you see Kendall and Jack in five years? Will they still be together? Will they still live in Maine? Do Gary, Amy and Nick continue to be an integral part of their relationship?

  16. Have you ever stayed in a luxury hotel? Has this book changed the way you view hotel employees?