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|The questions that
follow are intended to enhance your group's reading and discussion of
THE CURE FOR MODERN LIFE by Lisa Tucker
1. 1. Though Danny is only ten years old, he's clearly wise beyond
his years. His mother, Kim, says he's "closer to forty in his harsh
judgments of other people." He holds himself to a standard of
"knighthood," his personal code of honor and dignity. What other
admirable qualities do you see in Danny? What are his flaws? What kind
of person do you imagine he will grow up to be?
2. In his experience begging on the streets of Philadelphia, Danny
discovers that people are more willing to give money to a child who
needs train fare home than to a child who is hungry or homeless. Do you
think this is most likely the case? Why do you think some people may
avoid the situations that are obviously the most desperate?
3. Amelia comes from a very socially conscious background. Her whole
life, she has grappled with the question, "Why do such bad things happen
to innocent people?" What do you think of the logic that is offered by
her philosophy class: "Bad things happen to all people. All people
includes innocent people. Therefore, bad things happen to innocent
people" (p.44)? How does Amelia's preoccupation with this idea color her
view of the world?
4. Amelia considers herself a champion of the underdog, the ultimate
truth-teller and moralist. Which instances in the book show Amelia
living up to this role? When does she stray from these ideals? Would you
consider her a hypocrite, and why?
5. In order to make the difficult decision to send his mother away to a
drug rehabilitation program, Danny says he "had to learn to harden his
heart." Are there any other instances of hearts becoming hardened in
this book? When do you see hearts softened?
6. Though he's confronted with caring for a seriously drug-addicted
person, Matthew also takes various drugs throughout the book -- for
anxiety, sleep, headaches, and, in the opening scene, just for kicks.
Are you comfortable with Matthew's claim that he simply endorses the
safety of the products he promotes, or is there a deeper irony at play
here? What does the book say about drug usage, both prescribed and
illicit, in this country today?
7. Though Amelia and Ben seem perfectly paired in their values and
global ambitions, Amelia has her frustrations and admits that "living
with a hero turned out to be a lot harder than she'd ever imagined." Do
you think Ben is heroic? Is he ever a failure or a coward? Why is it so
hard to live with a hero?
8. What does Matthew mean when he says to Amelia on page 247, "I can't
give you a cure for modern life?" Why do you think the author chose this
as her title? In our modern lives, what, if anything, do we need to be
9. Amelia and Ben each have very difficult choices to make when
complications arise in Amelia's pregnancy. How do you think each of them
handled the situation?
10. The book begins, "Was Matthew Connolly a bad man?" How did your
assessment of Matthew change from the beginning to the end of this book?
How is he judged at different points by each of the other characters --
Danny, Isabelle, Ben, Amelia, Kim?