A Million Things
By Emily Spurr
For as long as Rae can remember, it’s been her and Mum, and their dog, Splinter; a small, deliberately unremarkable, family. They have their walks, their cooking routines, their home. Sometimes Mum disappears for a while to clear her head but Rae is okay with this, because Mum always comes back.
So, when Rae wakes to Splinter’s nose in her face, the back door open, and no Mum, she does as she’s always done and carries on. She takes care of the house, goes to school, walks Splinter, and minds her own business—all the while pushing down the truth she isn’t ready to face.
That is, until her grumpy, lonely neighbor Lettie—with her own secrets and sadness—falls one night and needs Rae’s help. As the two begin to rely on each other, Rae’s anxiety intensifies as she wonders what will happen to her when her mother’s absence is finally noticed and her fragile world bursts open.
- Did you enjoy this book? Rate it out of 5.
- How do you see the relationship between Splinter and Rae? Is he her protector? An extension of her? Her dependent (someone who needs her and keeps her going)? Or something else?
- The character of Rae’s mother, though central to the book, is never seen directly by the reader; we see her only through Rae’s memories and thoughts. What sort of picture of Rae’s mother do you, as the reader, form from this perspective?
- The theme of home is strong in this novel. How do each of the characters Rae, Lettie and Oscar differ or coincide in their experiences of, and relationship to, home?
- Consider what is unsaid in Rae’s narration. Do you think there are insights to be gained into Rae’s character and thoughts by what she does not say or address? If so, what do you think the reader can learn from the things Rae leaves unsaid?
- Rae has a strong reaction to Lettie’s relationship with her son, Chris. What parallels do you think Rae might be drawing between Lettie’s relationship boundaries with Chris and Rae’s relationship with her own mother?
- A Million Things deals with deep loss, grief and mental illness. Do you believe these topics are presented in a realistic way? How did you react to these themes?
- What was your interpretation of the overall tone of the book? Was it sad? Hopeful? Or something else?
- What are your thoughts about Lettie’s future? Do you feel the implication at the end of the novel is that things will be better for her? Or is it that her life will go back to the way it was? Which one of these outcomes do you think is more likely, based on your reading of the book?