This reading group guide for Your Perfect Life includes discussion questions and ideas for enhancing your book club. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.
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Topics & Questions for Discussion
1. How did you interpret the title of the novel? Did switching lives show Rachel and Casey that the other’s life wasn’t as perfect as it seemed, did it make them see that their own life was pretty perfect as it was—or is the answer somewhere in between?
2. What do you think the book is saying about “having it all”? Is such a thing attainable? What does “having it all” end up meaning for each of the protagonists?
3. Who are the people in Casey and Rachel’s lives who seem most attuned to the shift in their behavior and personality after they’ve switched bodies? Who seems to most recognize that something is not what it should be? Consider the significance of these particular individuals—what does it say about each woman’s relationship with them?
4. As Rachel and John enter the reunion holding hands and smiling, she thinks, “It’s funny how quickly we can transform into the people we ought to be” (page 12). In this moment, Rachel “pretending” to be a version of herself that she doesn’t feel seems to have negative connotations. But when she and Casey switch lives, “pretending” becomes a necessity, and even leads to positive things for each of them. How does “faking it” ultimately prove to be empowering for both women?
5. On the surface, Casey’s life might seem more glamorous than Rachel’s. What are the cons of being Casey that you wouldn’t have anticipated? And what are the pros of being Rachel that you might not have recognized?
6. What are some of the hard truths about themselves that Casey and Rachel are only able to see once they switch places?
7. As her relationship with Audrey blossoms, Casey remarks, “The one thing I’ve learned since being her mom is that having a teenager is a bit like dating a new guy; you can’t let them know how bad you want it” (page 143). In what other ways do Casey and Rachel use experiences from their “real” lives to help inform the decisions they make while they are switched? What unique skills are they able to bring to their best friend’s life?
8. When Casey and Rachel visit Jordan, the psychic, she says, “You already have the answer to switching back and it’s right in front of you. You need to think about why you switched in the first place and that will lead you to how you switch back” (page 110). Discuss what enables Casey and Rachel to finally switch back. What had to happen for this to become possible?
9. Consider how certain dynamics and fixed roles can develop in long-term friendships. How did this apply to Casey and Rachel at the beginning of the novel, and how has it changed by the end?
10. Which of your friends would you most trust to take over your life? What is it about this person—perhaps their personality traits, or your shared history—that makes them the best suited for the job? Which friend’s life would you most want to test out—and do you think your answer is different having now read Your Perfect Life
? Are these two friends one and the same, or are they different?
11. There’s an old adage that you need to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes before you can really understand them. In the case of Your Perfect Life
, could it also be said that you need to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes to really understand yourself? Enhance Your Book Club
1. Bring your high school yearbook to your next book club meeting. Share how you feel you have changed since high school—and what you feel has stayed the same.
2. Rachel makes Casey a very detailed “How to Be Rachel” list to help her get through the days. Make your own “How to Be Me” list and consider sharing with the group. Try to think of everything that even your best friend might not know about your routine, your home, or your family.
3. Pretend that you are the casting director for the film version of Your Perfect Life
. Who would you cast as Rachel and Casey? Who would play John and Charlie? What about Destiny and Audrey?
4. Speaking of films, consider watching one of the many movies that take the idea of “switching lives” as their central theme (Freaky Friday
, Sliding Doors
, Trading Places
, The Change-Up
, etc.). As a group, consider what it is about these kinds of stories that fascinate us so much. What desires do these narratives tap into? What do the common lessons of each seem to be?