Discussion Guide: The Stars We Share

1. Alec spends much of the novel yearning for home, although what that means to him shifts. What does home mean to you? Do you think Alec finds home in the end?

2. Although June loves Alec and wants to have a life with him, she also yearns for a life of the mind and her work with Floss. What does she stand to lose, whatever she decides? What do you think of her choices?

3. Alec's ordeal in the POW camps leaves him with scars, both emotional and physical. How do you think he was able not only to survive the ordeal but to thrive in his life after the war? How does Alec’s time in Halifax affect him?

4. What do the stories about the princess and the bear represent to different characters? What do they represent to you?

5. June is determined to do her part for King and Country, and ends up at Bletchley Park as a codebreaker, but only after signing the Official Secrets Act, requiring her to keep mum about her job with everyone she knows. Do you think she made the right decision in keeping her work life secret from Alec? Were the consequences of doing so worth it? Discuss.

6. There are many themes present in the novel, including war, coming of age, self-knowledge, family, building a legacy, etc. Which resonated the most with you, and why?

7. While June is in Ceylon, Alec is a prisoner of war. Her guilt about her secrets and his horrible experiences guides some of her decisions in the novel. Do you think she makes the right choices?

8. The phrase "too clever by half" comes up throughout The Stars We Share, although it doesn't always mean the same thing. What does the phrase mean to you? How do you think it reflects themes within the book?

9. While the characters in this novel are fictional, many of the places and organizations are real. Were you familiar with any of the nonfictional elements before reading The Stars We Share? Did you learn anything that surprised you?

10. The various male characters in the book have different expectations of women. How much of that difference is generational? How do those expectations influence how the men in the book—especially Alec and Floss—respond to the women around them? In what ways does June in particular meet or challenge their expectations?