11. When Ben retrieves Vanessa after their night of partying, he wonders, "just as he said it, what it would mean exactly, but still he told his sister, his little sister, "Vanessa," he said. "Let me take you home." (page 246). What do you think this phrase means to Ben, and the rest of his family? How is it similar or different from Dennis and Sharon's reconciliation at the Ritz?
12. Discuss the role of music in the novel. How does it highlight both the differences and the similarities in the various members of the Goldstein family?
13. All the characters seem to be reacting in some way to the past, whether it's their own childhoods, or the lives of their parents. How does memory function in the novel and how does the past haunt the present? Does it affect the decisions these characters make? Are they running from the past or are they trying in some way to retrieve the past?
14. Discuss the significance of the Snow Maiden story, a recurring thread throughout the novel: "The Snow Maiden listened to the song and tears rolled down her cheeks. And then her feet began to melt beneath her; she fell onto the earth and then she was gone, a light mist rising from the place she had fallen" (page 266).
15. Were you surprised by the end of the novel? Discuss the importance of secrets and trust in the novel.
16. In her last moments with Dennis and her husband, Tatiana feels it necessary to clarify that it was, indeed, Helen singing at a Workers Party years before. Why does she do this? What do you make of the rest of her confession? Can you sympathize with her? In what sense?
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