Hi Online Book Clubbers!

How was the first book of 2020 for you? Did you stay on track?! Hope you’re continuing on with me for the second book of the year, and 5th book of our online book club!

Here are some questions to get the conversation started from the most recent book club selection.


When Life Gives You Pears by Jeannie Gaffigan

  1. What did you think about Jeannie ignoring the signs that there was something that needed to be checked out by a doctor (specifically the hearing loss)? Do you know anyone that has had these symptoms and put them off thinking they were nothing, chalking it up to something else, or in fear of seeming crazy? Have you pushed away warning signs?
  2. What were your thoughts on the advice from the ENT doctor, after he realized Jeannie’s hearing was normal from the tests, yet she still couldn’t hear at all out of her one ear (Reminder: his advice was to listen to tapes and work on improving her hearing skills)?
  3. How does Jeannie wear the badge of honour of being “busy” in her book and in her life? Does this come at a detriment to her health? How common is that in our society?
  4. In the end, multiple links send Jeannie to Mount Sinai, where she had Doctor Bederson. Do you think this was luck, meant to be, chance?
  5. How does the support of Jeannie’s family and friends impact her diagnosis, her mindset, and her recovery? What did you notice about her shift in gratitude throughout her journey?
  6. What role did faith play in Jeannie’s life before her knowledge of the brain tumour and after?
  7. One moment I found really special was Jeannie talking about her kids playing at the park in their Easter clothes – something she used to worry about – she notes that she realized at that moment that people were more important than things. Did this moment speak to you? What are some other eye-opening moments Jeannie, or you as the reader, encountered?
  8. When Jeannie was in recovery, she desired two things so deeply – food and the touch of her kids. Speak on this.
  9. Jeannie talks about how she was considered high maintenance at the hospital by the hospital staff. Did you find her behaviour to be high maintenance? Would you have reacted differently?
  10. At the end of the book, there is a huge realization that sometimes our need for control overshadows other people’s capabilities; in this case, the capabilities of Jeannie’s husband and kids. Do you ever behave in this way – thinking that only your way is the right way? Did her realization shift your perspective?
  11. I liked the end where Jeannie showed a revised version of her daily “taking the kids to school” schedule. As she said, she stopped more often to “smell the roses,” and if there is truth in her schedule, you can really see that. Did you take this to be the moral of her story? Were there any other morals and life lessons you took away from it?

So many of the books I read take place in New York, and I look at them from a different lens now living here. I also have a soft spot for anyone that speaks so highly of Canadians, like Jeannie does about her Canadian family doctor in her book. Hearing about Jeannie pushing away the signs that something was wrong totally resonated with me after talking to others about their experiences with their health…we often assume our symptoms are related to something else. And one wouldn’t ever think their symptoms would actually signify something like a brain tumour! Jeannie’s writing is humorous, which makes her story more light-hearted to read, but it still reminds us the importance of taking care of ourselves, listening to our bodies, and remembering the most important things in life, such as putting our loved ones on the top of our priority list! I’m giving this book 3.5/5. I appreciate Jeannie sharing her story with the world.

Thanks for joining in on Book Club #4! Stay tuned for #5 coming right up.