1. In the first sentence of the prologue, John asks: "What does it mean to truly love another?" How does John’s answer to this question change over the course of the novel? How would you answer this question?
2. Savannah and John meet when John is on a furlough from the military and they fall deeply in love after only a few days. Is their love believable? Do you think it is possible to have such an intense connection with someone you’ve only just met?
3. Trying to explain her interest in John’s dad’s coin collection, Savannah says, "The saddest people I’ve ever met in life are the ones who don’t care deeply about anything at all. Passion and satisfaction go hand in hand." Do you agree with Savannah? Do you think John’s father is a satisfied man?
4. Why does John get so angry when Savannah suggests what she does about his father and how, in the end, does this revelation change John’s life and his relationship with his father?
5. Savannah is described by both herself and Tim as being somewhat naïve. Do you think Savannah is naïve? Why or why not?
6. When John goes back to Germany after his furlough, he and Savannah vow to stay in touch and to marry when he returns. Do you think it’s possible to stay in love with someone without seeing them for months or years at a time? How does being apart affect Savannah and John’s relationship?
7. John eagerly awaits his discharge from the military so he can begin a life with Savannah, but John also has a deep sense of duty and loyalty to his country and fellow soldiers. After September 11, John makes a decision that will change his life and Savannah’s life forever. Do you think John made the right decision? Does Savannah think he made the right decision? Given the outcome, do you think John regrets his decision?
8. Do you think Savannah should have waited for John to come home or do you think it was understandable that she moved on with her life?
9. After fighting in the war in Iraq, John has a hard time telling people about his experience there. Instead, when asked what it was like, he responds with a harmless anecdote about the sand because doing so “kept the war at a safe distance” for other people. What does John mean by this? In what ways does the Iraq War change John and what are his feelings about his role in the war?
10. After John’s father dies, he goes to visit Savannah. How has their relationship changed at this point? Is Savannah different from who she was in the beginning of the novel? Do you think Savannah is still in love with John?
11. How do you think John views Tim, and how do his perceptions change by the end of the novel?
12. What do you make of John’s actions at the very end of the novel? Would you have done what he did if you were in his position?
13. How do you interpret the novel’s ending? How do you imagine John’s future?
(Questions issued by publishers.)
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