1. What specific aspects of Lawson’s childhood particularly intrigued or repelled you? Is it possible to have both reactions at the same time?
2. What are some ways in which the book explores themes of individuality?
3. Were you surprised by the ending of Stanley the Magical Squirrel? Is it possible to find laughter in such horrific stories?
4. Lawson describes her hometown as “violently rural” and struggles to find a point to its existence. In your opinion, did growing up in this town help or hinder her?
5. Some reviewers have said this book is about individuality, and others feel it’s a book about family. What do you believe is the overall theme of the book?
6. Lawson and her husband have extremely different personalities, beliefs, and political backgrounds, yet they’ve managed to stay happily married. What is behind the success of their relationship? In what ways can being opposites help people in a relationship?
7. Lawson wrote about her OCD, phobias, and other mental struggles. Did this make her more or less relatable to you? Have you or has someone you know had a phobia or mental illness so severe that it affected your life?
8. Lawson made the decision to infuse humor into even her most traumatic stories of dealing with infertility, loss, and arthritis. What do you think of this choice? Have you ever used humor for healing?
9. Lawson had family members read and vet the book before it was published, giving them the opportunity to give their opinions on the writing. Is this a good idea for a memoirist? Is it ultimately stifling or respectful? Are there times when someone’s life story is not his or hers to tell?
10. What did you think about the author’s voice, her use of run–on sentences, stream–of–consciousness narrative, profanity, and invented words to create a unique narrative?
11. In the chapter about infertility, Lawson discusses her struggles with suicidal tendencies. What purpose does this section have in the narrative?
12. This book deals with mental illness, poverty, suicide, miscarriage, disease, and other traumatic subjects, yet most people consider it a humor book. Do you agree with this classification?
13. What was your favorite story? Why?
14. Of all the people described in the book, whom did you most relate to or empathize with, and why?
15. What do you think Lawson was looking for in her life? Do you think she has found it?
(Questions issued by publisher.)
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