And Now We Have Everything (O'Connell) - Discussion Questions

Discussion Questions
We'll add publisher questions if and when they're available; in the meantime, use our LitLovers talking points to help start a discussion for AND NOW WE HAVE EVERYTHING … then take off on your own:

THE FOLLOWING QUESTIONS presume you are a woman and are pregnant or have been...

1. In the first essay of Meaghan O'Connell's book, she says, "A baby was the thing we were trying to keep out" and also "Part of me loved this feeling, of being steamrollled by life, of being totally fucked." Talk about those twin yet contradictory emotions as they relate to the author's experiences and to those you might have felt when you learned you were pregnant.

2. Follow-up to Question 1: In what other ways would you say that O'Connell explodes—or at the very least, undermines—the myth of the glories of motherhood?

3. How much of O'Connell's roller-coaster ride throughout her book resonantes with your own experiences, either in pregnancy, labor, or the earliest weeks with your first child?

4. Are parts of this book cringe-inducing? Do parts of it make you uncomfortable?

5. In the chapter "Maternal Instincts," O'Connell talks about feeling trapped between, again, two extremes: "nurturer and stalker, human and animal." What does she mean?

6. Early on, O'Connell obsesses over the baby's safety. Do you think that our culture, with the constant hype of life's dangers, has made parenthood feel more dangerous than it is? Not to say that we shouldn't be extra vigilant, but should we "be afraid, be very afraid!"—remaining in a constant state of heightened alert? Or is it wise to be extra cautious, given that new parenthood comes with no instruction manual?

7. Presuming you are already a mother, do you wish this book had been available to you during your pregnancy?

8. Talk about the toll on O'Connell's relationship with her new husband and on her career.

9. What is the significance of the book's title: And Now We Have Everything? Is it ironic or sincere?

(Questions by LitLovers. Please feel free to use them, online and off, with attribution. Thanks.)

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