When Comes The Joy

Discussion Guide

**SPOILER ALERT** – Please don’t read this before reading the book, as it contains spoilers!

1. What did you think of Jennifer’s motivation to lose the weight? Did it seem believable to you that her mother’s death was a strong motivating factor, or do you think her general frustration with her life played a bigger role?

2. “This will be a life change. This will be different. I will wake up exactly one year from today and I will be the person I’ve always wanted to be. The person I was born to be.”

How misguided was Jennifer’s belief that becoming the ‘person she was [born] to be” had something to do with reaching a certain number on a scale. Do you feel society pushes that belief on women – that they’re only worthy and lovable if they fit into a certain mold?

3. Jennifer is quite unlikable at times. Were you able to look past this, to feel empathy and/or understanding for her character, or did she continually frustrate you?

4. Do you think many people judge themselves on their physical appearance and whether they do or do not meet some outward expectation of beauty? How do you think this affects self-esteem and self-worth? Did anything in Jennifer’s experience speak to you?

5. What were your thoughts regarding Jennifer’s relationships with her father and Billy? If in Jennifer’s shoes, would you have forgiven them for the way they treated her, or do you think Jennifer was exaggerating their negative behaviour toward her?

6. Were you glad Jennifer didn’t reach her goal weight, just a healthy one? Why?

7. “We look into a past that no longer exists, looking as if it’s real. We hold onto things in our life that there’s no reason to hold onto anymore because, unlike the stars, they don’t bring us beauty, they bring us pain.”

In the scene on Mount Carleton, looking up at the stars, Rajeev talks to Jennifer about living in the past and how when we hold onto the past, letting it determine our future, it can cripples our chance at happiness. What do you think of this?