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Book club questions for The Celebrants by Steven Rowley takes an in-depth look at this novel about friendship and navigating adulthood. There will be spoilers so for more context about the book, check out my spoiler-free review first.
I did like The Celebrants but as I mentioned in my review, I didn’t love it. It was a bit of a letdown compared to his previous novels. Again, I found elements like the living funerals idea interesting but I didn’t love this group of friends.
I wanted more of the Jordans! The other friends, I just wasn’t as engaged with.
Let me know your thoughts below!
It’s been a minute—or five years—since Jordan Vargas last saw his college friends, and twenty-eight years since their graduation when their adult lives officially began. Now Jordan, Jordy, Naomi, Craig, and Marielle find themselves at the brink of a new decade, with all the responsibilities of adulthood, yet no closer to having their lives figured out. Though not for a lack of trying. Over the years they’ve reunited in Big Sur to honor a decades-old pact to throw each other living “funerals,” celebrations to remind themselves that life is worth living—that their lives mean something, to one another if not to themselves.
But this reunion is different. They’re not gathered as they were to bolster Marielle as her marriage crumbled, to lift Naomi after her parents died, or to intervene when Craig pleaded guilty to art fraud. This time, Jordan is sitting on a secret that will upend their pact.
Book Club Questions for The Celebrants
- What was your overall impression of this group of friends? Why do you think they stay connected all these years?
- Did you find any similarities between yourself and any of the characters?
- What do you think are the driving forces keeping this group of friends together? Why do they call themselves the celebrants?
- Why did Marielle come up with the idea of living funerals? What is the concept behind the funerals?
- Would you want to have a living funeral thrown for you?
- We find out quickly that Jordan has cancer and only a few months left to live. Both him and Jordy experience a wide range of emotions and sometimes argue out of sadness and frustration. What were your thoughts about their scenes together after his diagnosis?
- How did Alec’s death impact the entire group of friends?
- Throughout the decades, secrets are revealed. For instance, Alec confided in Jordy that he was diagnosis with HIV. But even after his death, Jordy didn’t tell anyone else. Why do you think he kept that a secret?
- Marielle and Craig sleep together the night of Alec’s funeral. She then moves away and meets another guy and gets pregnant right away. It eventually gets revealed that her daughter is in fact Craig’s—but it wasn’t a secret she kept, she just didn’t really connect the dots until she saw Craig again later in life. What are your overall thoughts on this development?
- Do you think the group will stay in touch after Jordan’s death? Why or why not?
Hope you enjoyed book club questions for The Celebrants! Here are some more recommendations along with links to book club questions.
The Editor by Steven Rowley
If you haven’t read The Editor by Steven Rowley, definitely check it out! I loved this novel—it’s so impactful and heartfelt.
After years of trying to make it as a writer in 1990s New York City, James Smale finally sells his novel to an editor at a major publishing house: none other than Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. Jackie–or Mrs. Onassis, as she’s known in the office–has fallen in love with James’s candidly autobiographical novel, one that exposes his own dysfunctional family. But when the book’s forthcoming publication threatens to unravel already fragile relationships, both within his family and with his partner, James finds that he can’t bring himself to finish the manuscript.
Jackie and James develop an unexpected friendship, and she pushes him to write an authentic ending, encouraging him to head home to confront the truth about his relationship with his mother. Then a long-held family secret is revealed, and he realizes his editor may have had a larger plan that goes beyond the page…
From the bestselling author of Lily and the Octopus comes a funny, poignant, and highly original novel about an author whose relationship with his very famous book editor will change him forever–both as a writer and as a son.
Check out my book club questions here.
People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry
People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry is another great choice, especially for summertime reading.
Poppy and Alex. Alex and Poppy. They have nothing in common. She’s a wild child; he wears khakis. She has insatiable wanderlust; he prefers to stay home with a book. And somehow, ever since a fateful car share home from college many years ago, they are the very best of friends. For most of the year they live far apart—she’s in New York City, and he’s in their small hometown—but every summer, for a decade, they have taken one glorious week of vacation together.
Until two years ago, when they ruined everything. They haven’t spoken since.
Poppy has everything she should want, but she’s stuck in a rut. When someone asks when she was last truly happy, she knows, without a doubt, it was on that ill-fated, final trip with Alex. And so, she decides to convince her best friend to take one more vacation together—lay everything on the table, make it all right. Miraculously, he agrees.
Now she has a week to fix everything. If only she can get around the one big truth that has always stood quietly in the middle of their seemingly perfect relationship. What could possibly go wrong?
Check out my book club questions here.