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Barefoot (Hilderbrand) - Discussion Questions

Discussion Questions 
1. Barefoot shifts in perspective between four primary characters: Brenda, Vicki, Melanie and Josh. Which character made the strongest first impression on you? Did you find that your favorite character shifted as the novel progressed?

2. The island of Nantucket plays a distinct and significant role in Elin Hilderbrand's novels. In Barefoot, how does Brenda, Vicki, Melanie's summer escape to the island allow them to more fully realize themselves?

3. Discuss the character of Josh's ex-girlfriend, Didi, in the novel. Ultimately, in what ways does she affect Josh's life and his outlook?

4. Initially Brenda resents Melanie's presence in their small 'Sconset cottage, in part due to Vicki's motivation to include her; as Brenda observes, "But it was also the case that Brenda's company alone had never been enough for Vicki." (pg. 4) How does Melanie's inclusion affect the group dynamic? How does it impact Brenda's relationship with her sister?

5. Josh encounters the advice "Be careful" several times throughout the novel. To what relationships do you think this warning most aptly applies in Barefoot? To what relationships does caution have no bearing?

6. Given that John Walsh is one year older than Brenda, do you feel that Champion University's response to their relationship is justified? Do you think the University's decision is ultimately productive for Brenda?

7. Discuss the role of fatherhood in the novel. Which father— Tom Flynn, Peter Patchen, or Ted Stowe—did you ultimately most admire? What does Josh learn about fatherhood by the summer's end?

8. Discuss Josh's employment as a babysitter and his role in Blaine and Porter's life. Why do you think Josh is so adept at taking care of Vicki's boys?

9. Throughout the novel, Vicki keeps a mental list entitled "Things That No Longer Matter." By the end of the novel, what have Brenda, Vicki and Melanie found matters most to each of them?

10. What does the future hold for Brenda, Vicki and Melanie after the novel's conclusion? How will the birth of Amber affect Melanie and Peter's relationship? How will Vickie cope with her recovery? Can Brenda undertake a new career? Finally, how influential will this summer on Nantucket prove to be in each of their lives?
(Questions issued by publisher.)

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