A Reader’s Guide for : The Opposite of Maybe by Maddie Dawson
Please note: In order to provide reading groups with the most informed and thought-provoking questions possible, it is necessary to reveal important aspects of the plot of this novel—as well as the ending. If you have not finished reading The Opposite of Maybe, we respectfully suggest that you may want to wait before reviewing this guide.
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1. When Rosie and Jonathan get interrupted while making love and he loses interest in continuing, Jonathan says this is just middle-aged life. Is Rosie’s need for romance realistic after fifteen years?
2. Is Soapie accurate that Jonathan’s love of the ancient, unusable, untouchable teacups says something about his personality? If he hadn’t gotten the opportunity to move to California with the teacups and start a museum, do you think they would have stayed together?
3. What is the significance of the teasing their friends do—“The Jonathan and Rosie Show,” for instance?
4. When Soapie explains her philosophy of living the rest of her life to its utmost and not submitting to being cared for by people who will have authority over her, Rosie can understand and support this decision, even though it means Soapie might be unsafe. How should we treat older people who resist nursing care and insist they have earned the right to take chances with their health?
5. Why is Tony so reluctant to challenge his former wife and her partner, and what eventually changes his mind? What is it that Rosie sees in Tony that he doesn’t see in himself, and why does she eventually fall in love with him?
6. When Rosie finds out she’s pregnant, her first reaction is to be shocked—and astonished—that her body could do this after so many years. But then this is quickly followed by her realistic sense that she isn’t equipped for motherhood. What do you think really changes her mind and makes her decide to have the baby? Do you think Rosie will be a good mother even though she didn’t have any real mothering herself?
7. Once Rosie hears the truth about her mother’s death, she says she sees everything about her life in a different light. Everyone tells her it doesn’t really change anything, but she doesn’t agree. Is it just a matter of becoming accustomed to this new way of seeing her mother’s short, tragic life and putting away the fantasy she had? How does her reaction color her relationships with Tony and Jonathan?
8. Rosie says that she and Tony are going to have a time of the “Peace Corps of the heart, where you get to be your own sweet caseworker, ministering to all the hurt and ruined places, rebuilding the infrastructure and soothing the natives.” Why does she think this will help her? Is it possible to give yourself that kind of uncommitted time from your real life?
9. Do you feel Rosie should have given life in California more of a chance, given that Jonathan is the baby’s father?
10. Soapie always thought Rosie should go to Paris and write in a café, or go hunt lions in Africa. But is there a way in which Rosie did end up doing exactly what Soapie advised her to do for her life?
11. Do you think Rosie and Tony will stay together? What do you expect Jonathan’s role in Beanie’s life will be? How did you feel about Rosie’s decisions?