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Book club questions for Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah takes an in-depth look at this novel about female friendship. There will be spoilers so for more context about the book, check out my spoiler-free review first.
Whew, this one is an emotional rollercoaster. I’m going to get into my spoiler thoughts here:
When I told my friend that I was reading this novel, she said there will probably be a cancer storyline. And she was right. Oh man, my heart broke for Kate when she got the diagnosis. That was so tough to read. Very tragic. I just hated that Kate’s story went out like that. The author did write a note of why that was included— the idea was to help raise awareness to inflammatory breast cancer. So I completely understand it helps to bring awareness. But oh gosh, that was so sad.
In the turbulent summer of 1974, Kate Mularkey has accepted her place at the bottom of the eighth-grade social food chain. Then, to her amazement, the “coolest girl in the world” moves in across the street and wants to be her friend. Tully Hart seems to have it all—beauty, brains, ambition. On the surface they are as opposite as two people can be: Kate, doomed to be forever uncool, with a loving family who mortifies her at every turn. Tully, steeped in glamour and mystery, but with a secret that is destroying her. They make a pact to be best friends forever; by summer’s end they’ve become TullyandKate. Inseparable.
So begins Kristin Hannah’s magnificent new novel. Spanning more than three decades and playing out across the ever-changing face of the Pacific Northwest, Firefly Lane is the poignant, powerful story of two women and the friendship that becomes the bulkhead of their lives.
From the beginning, Tully is desperate to prove her worth to the world. Abandoned by her mother at an early age, she longs to be loved unconditionally. In the glittering, big-hair era of the eighties, she looks to men to fill the void in her soul. But in the buttoned-down nineties, it is television news that captivates her. She will follow her own blind ambition to New York and around the globe, finding fame and success . . . and loneliness.
Kate knows early on that her life will be nothing special. Throughout college, she pretends to be driven by a need for success, but all she really wants is to fall in love and have children and live an ordinary life. In her own quiet way, Kate is as driven as Tully. What she doesn’t know is how being a wife and mother will change her . . . how she’ll lose sight of who she once was, and what she once wanted. And how much she’ll envy her famous best friend. . . .
For thirty years, Tully and Kate buoy each other through life, weathering the storms of friendship—jealousy, anger, hurt, resentment. They think they’ve survived it all until a single act of betrayal tears them apart . . . and puts their courage and friendship to the ultimate test.
Book Club Questions for Firefly Lane
- This novel covers a friendship over a 30 year time frame. Why do you think the author decided to cover so much ground in this novel?
- What were some of the driving factors for Kate and Tully to become friends?
- Tully’s mother abandons Tully time and time again. What type of impact did that have on Tully’s relationships? Do you think she can ever forgive her mother?
- Why was Tully so drawn to broadcast journalism?
- Tully is the bright star, while Kate is the supporting player. And Kate goes along with what Tully wants, even going into the same field as her. Why do you think Kate always followed Tully’s lead?
- Which decade was your favorite to read in the novel?
- Kate falls hard for their boss, Johnny. But he initially only has eyes for Tully, until Kate makes a move on him. Let’s discuss in detail their relationship. Were they a right fit? Or do you think Johnny “settled” for Kate? Did he still have feelings for Tully the entire time? And do you think Tully ever had feelings for him?
- Kate gives up her career when she gets pregnant. Despite saying she’ll return to writing, she really never does. Do you feel it’s sad that she never wrote a book or do you think she made the right choice to focus on her family?
- How did both Tully and Kate evolve and grow throughout the book?
- Motherhood isn’t easy. Kate and her daughter, Marah, have a very violate relationship. While Marah worships the ground that Tully walks. Let’s talk about all these dynamics.
- We never see Tully in a committed relationship and she seems pretty envious of Kate and her family at times. Do you think Tully could have been happy in a domestic lifestyle or would it have driven her crazy?
- Kate is hit with the shocking news that she has advanced breast cancer. Let’s talk about our thoughts on that and the ending of the novel.
- If you’ve watched the Netflix show, how does it compare to the book? Do you like the show or book better?
- There’s a sequel to this story called Fly Away, which covers what happens to the characters after Kate’s death. Are you planning to read it?
Hope you enjoyed book club questions for Firefly Lane! Here are some more recommendations along with links to book club questions.
In Five Years by Rebecca Serle
Another story about female friendship is In Five Years by Rebecca Serle. Have the tissues nearby for this one!
Where do you see yourself in five years?
Dannie Kohan lives her life by the numbers.
She is nothing like her lifelong best friend—the wild, whimsical, believes-in-fate Bella. Her meticulous planning seems to have paid off after she nails the most important job interview of her career and accepts her boyfriend’s marriage proposal in one fell swoop, falling asleep completely content.
But when she awakens, she’s suddenly in a different apartment, with a different ring on her finger, and beside a very different man. Dannie spends one hour exactly five years in the future before she wakes again in her own home on the brink of midnight—but it is one hour she cannot shake. In Five Years is an unforgettable love story, but it is not the one you’re expecting.
28 Summers by Elin Hilderbrand
28 Summers by Elin Hilderbrand also covers a relationship for many years, in this case romantic.
When Mallory Blessing’s son, Link, receives deathbed instructions from his mother to call a number on a slip of paper in her desk drawer, he’s not sure what to expect. But he certainly does not expect Jake McCloud to answer. It’s the late spring of 2020 and Jake’s wife, Ursula DeGournsey, is the frontrunner in the upcoming Presidential election.
There must be a mistake, Link thinks. How do Mallory and Jake know each other?
Flash back to the sweet summer of 1993: Mallory has just inherited a beachfront cottage on Nantucket from her aunt, and she agrees to host her brother’s bachelor party. Cooper’s friend from college, Jake McCloud, attends, and Jake and Mallory form a bond that will persevere—through marriage, children, and Ursula’s stratospheric political rise—until Mallory learns she’s dying.
Based on the classic film Same Time Next Year (which Mallory and Jake watch every summer), 28 Summers explores the agony and romance of a one-weekend-per-year affair and the dramatic ways this relationship complicates and enriches their lives, and the lives of the people they love.