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If you went to my review, you’ll see I wasn’t a fan of this novel. While some parts were decent, I thought it was a miss overall.
I do think, however, there is plenty to discuss. So read on for my book club questions!
The Kingsley family is American royalty, beloved for their military heroics, political service, and unmatched elegance. In 1967, after Joseph S. Kingsley, Jr. is killed in a tragic accident, his charismatic son inherits the weight of that legacy. But Joe III is a free spirit—and a little bit reckless. Despite his best intentions, he has trouble meeting the expectations of a nation, as well as those of his exacting mother, Dottie.
Meanwhile, no one ever expected anything of Cate Cooper. She, too, grew up fatherless—and after her mother marries an abusive man, she is forced to fend for herself. After being discovered by a model scout at age sixteen, Cate decides that her looks may be her only ticket out of the cycle of disappointment that her mother has always inhabited. Before too long, Cate’s face is in magazines and on billboards. Yet she feels like a fraud, faking it in a world to which she’s never truly belonged.
When Joe and Cate unexpectedly cross paths one afternoon, their connection is instant and intense. But can their relationship survive the glare of the spotlight and the so-called Kingsley curse? In a beautifully written novel that captures a gilded moment in American history, Emily Giffin tells the story of two people searching for belonging and identity, as well as the answer to the question: Are certain love stories meant to be?
Book Club Questions for Meant to Be
- Let’s first talk about the real-life inspiration behind the story: JFK, Jr. and his wife, Carolyn Bessette. Did you follow them as a couple? What were your thoughts? Do you remember where you were when you found out they died in a plane crash?
- Why do you think fascination with certain celebrities lingers even after they’re gone? Was it about the Kennedys of the past that continue to drive such fascination?
- In what ways were Joe and Cate similar to their real-life counterparts?
- Why do think Emily decided to focus so much on Joe and Cate as teens and before they met? How did that help set the stage for what was to come?
- When they finally meet, Joe and Cate have instant chemistry. Why were they such a good match?
- Joe’s family is talked about often but there aren’t too many scenes with his mother and grandma. Did you want to see more of those relationships?
- Why did Cate initially hide the truth about her family to Joe? How did her relationship with Joe finally force her to confront her past?
- Emily wrote Joe as almost like this perfect human being. What was your impression of Joe overall?
- Eventually Joe and Cate get on a plane but in a plot twist, they survive and eventually marry and have children. What are your thoughts about the ending?
- Will Joe become president? Are you interested in learning more about their life post-plane incident?
- Let’s imagine that JFK, Jr. and Carolyn survived. Do you think he would have political aspirations?
- How does this novel rank compare to other Emily Giffin stories you’ve read?
Hope you enjoyed book club questions for Meant to Be! Here are some more recommendations along with links to book club questions.
Book Lovers by Emily Henry
I highly recommend Book Lovers by Emily Henry! It’s definitely the best romance I’ve read this year so far.
Nora Stephens’ life is books—she’s read them all—and she is not that type of heroine. Not the plucky one, not the laidback dream girl, and especially not the sweetheart. In fact, the only people Nora is a heroine for are her clients, for whom she lands enormous deals as a cutthroat literary agent, and her beloved little sister Libby.
Which is why she agrees to go to Sunshine Falls, North Carolina for the month of August when Libby begs her for a sisters’ trip away—with visions of a small town transformation for Nora, who she’s convinced needs to become the heroine in her own story. But instead of picnics in meadows, or run-ins with a handsome country doctor or bulging-forearmed bartender, Nora keeps bumping into Charlie Lastra, a bookish brooding editor from back in the city. It would be a meet-cute if not for the fact that they’ve met many times and it’s never been cute.
If Nora knows she’s not an ideal heroine, Charlie knows he’s nobody’s hero, but as they are thrown together again and again—in a series of coincidences no editor worth their salt would allow—what they discover might just unravel the carefully crafted stories they’ve written about themselves.
Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus
One of the most-talked about novels so far is Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus. It’s very entertaining!
Chemist Elizabeth Zott is not your average woman. In fact, Elizabeth Zott would be the first to point out that there is no such thing as an average woman. But it’s the early 1960s and her all-male team at Hastings Research Institute takes a very unscientific view of equality. Except for one: Calvin Evans; the lonely, brilliant, Nobel–prize nominated grudge-holder who falls in love with—of all things—her mind. True chemistry results.
But like science, life is unpredictable. Which is why a few years later Elizabeth Zott finds herself not only a single mother, but the reluctant star of America’s most beloved cooking show Supper at Six. Elizabeth’s unusual approach to cooking (“combine one tablespoon acetic acid with a pinch of sodium chloride”) proves revolutionary. But as her following grows, not everyone is happy. Because as it turns out, Elizabeth Zott isn’t just teaching women to cook. She’s daring them to change the status quo.
Laugh-out-loud funny, shrewdly observant, and studded with a dazzling cast of supporting characters, Lessons in Chemistry is as original and vibrant as its protagonist.