You Remind Me of Me
by Dan Chaon
With his critically acclaimed Among the Missing and Fitting Ends, award-winning author Dan Chaon proved himself a master of the short story form. He is a writer, observes the Chicago Tribune, who can "convincingly squeeze whole lives into a mere twenty pages or so." Now Chaon marshals his notable talents in his much-anticipated debut novel.
You Remind Me of Me begins with a series of separate incidents: In 1977, a little boy is savagely attacked by his mother's pet Doberman; in 1997 another little boy disappears from his grandmother's backyard on a sunny summer morning; in 1966, a pregnant teenager admits herself to a maternity home, with the intention of giving her child up for adoption; in 1991, a young man drifts toward a career as a drug dealer, even as he hopes for something better. With penetrating insight and a deep devotion to his characters, Dan Chaon explores the secret connections that irrevocably link them. In the process he examines questions of identity, fate, and circumstance: Why do we become the people that we become? How do we end up stuck in lives that we never wanted? And can we change the course of what seems inevitable?
In language that is both unflinching and exquisite, Chaon moves deftly between the past and the present in the small-town prairie Midwest and shows us the extraordinary lives of "ordinary" people.
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1. Why did Nora give up her first baby and not her second? In turn, how did each child pay the price of her decision?
2. How do Jonah's scars influence his life the most?
3. Why is Jonah so much more interested in the baby his mother gave up than Troy is about being adopted?
4. How do you feel Jonah and Troy's lives would have been different if Nora had been honest with Wayne Hill, Troy's natural father, about being pregnant?
5. How are Steve and Holiday, and Jonah important to each other? Why did their relationship end?
6. Why couldn't Jonah recognize the circumstances he could change/influence so his fate would turn out differently?
7. How would Jonah and Troy's lives been different if Jonah had been honest with Troy about their connection when they first met?
8. Why do you think Jonah didn't tell Troy the truth about Nora's life and personality when they first meet? Would this have changed the relationship between Troy and Jonah?
9. At what point did you recognize that Jonah has seriously broken with reality?
10. What is the significance of names in this novel? Why do you think the author chose each name?
The Mrs. Glass House
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"You Remind Me of Me is one of the strangest, most beautiful, most compelling books I've read in a long time. Unnerving and real, intricately plotted, wonderfully written, it's a Chinese box of a novel, full of hidden pleasures and surprises."
Elizabeth Mccracken, author of The Giant's House and Niagara Falls All Over Again
"[A] piercingly poignant tale of fate, chance, and search for redemption."
Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"One of Dan Chaon's many gifts is his ability to probe deeply and delicately into sorrow. This gift serves him beautifully in You Remind Me of Me, a novel about adoption, about the quiet sadness that lies at the bottom of all his characters' troubles."
Jane Hamilton, author of A Map of the World
"Dan Chaon's beautiful, effortless prose commands the reader from sentence one, steering us from prickling unease to wrenching pathos, tunneling inside his characters' minds and worlds with such authority that everything else seems to disappear. It's almost frightening to be in the hands of so gifted a writer."
Jennifer Egan, author of Look at Me and The Invisible Circus
"Beautiful, painful, and sure footed, You Remind Me of Me tracks the delicate connections between a handful of lost and poignant lives, in the process giving them the radiance of a stained-glass window. What a writer. Dan Chaon is going to have a breathtaking literary career."
Peter Straub, author of Lost Boy Lost Girl
"Dan Chaon's novel, You Remind Me of Me, is nothing short of brilliant. The novel is haunting me, and I can't stop thinking about itboth as a reader and as a deeply admiring writer. I wish I had a better adjective than superb."
Caroline Leavitt, author of Girls in Trouble
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