1. Is it natural for a mother to want to leave her family sometimes, even if most don’t act on it? How would the story be different if Jonathan had been the one to disappear?
2. How do you think the author meant to portray Jonathan? Did his relationship with Harmony change the way you saw him?
3. Do you believe there was genuine love in Billie and Jonathan’s marriage? To what extent is some degree of secrecy a normal, even necessary, part of a marriage?
4. Olive felt that she was receiving psychic messages from her missing mother. Do you think this really was something paranormal? Part of a mother-daughter bond? A neurological condition? Have you ever felt some kind of unexplained communication with a parent or child or someone you love? If so, did you experience it on your own—as a dream or an experience of heightened intuition—or with the help of a psychic medium, like the Sharon Parkins character in the novel?
5. How does Olive’s growing self-awareness and the revelation that comes with it fit into the novel’s larger theme of searching for one’s true identity? Discuss the ways other characters have sought to discover—or change—their personas.
6. Throughout the novel, you get to see Billie through different perspectives—from her daughter, her husband, her friends, and more. After finishing the novel, do you feel like you know who Billie really is, or do you still find her to be a mystery?
7. Is Billie a classic femme fatale? Why or why not? Is she a feminist character?
8. As you read, there are clues that suggest different possible endings for Billie. Were you surprised by the ending? If you were, how did you think it would end and why?
9. How do you get to know someone who lies to themself? Can you ever really know a person?