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Jenna Bush Hager's August Read With Jenna book club pick, "The Comeback" by Ella Berman, addresses very serious themes of abuse and trauma that have been prevalent topics of conversations in pop culture over the last few years.
Berman's book introduces readers to Grace, a young Hollywood actor. Grace is coming to terms with the abuse she suffered at the hands of a director who made her famous. In the process, she creates room for important conversations about the impact trauma has on survivors of abuse.
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The questions below are a helpful tool for starting conversations about the book. Use them to discuss Grace's character, how abuse plays a role in her relationships with others and more.
- "The Comeback" has female relationships at its core. Do you agree that Grace fails all the women in her life (her mom, Esme, Camila, Wren, Emilia and Laurel) at various points in the book? And in what ways does she redeem herself? What do others see in Grace?
- At one point, Grace says of Esme, “I understand that I’m letting her down, and that I have a chance to fix something in her that is already broken in me.” Do you think Grace succeeds in this? In what ways do Grace and Esme differ?
- What do you think motivated Emilia to spend so much time with Grace? Do you believe that her affection was genuine? And vice versa for Grace with Emilia.
- What do you think of Grace’s feeling that she “owes” the public for making her famous? Do you believe that we are owed something by the celebrities we admire?
- Grace refuses to explore the motivation behind Able’s actions, including his childhood. Do you agree with this decision, or do you think it can be helpful to look to the past when examining the cycle of abuse?
- Shame is a recurring theme in Grace’s journey, and she often questions her own complicity in her abuse. Why do you think she does this?
- Has the cultural shift around the #MeToo movement forced you to look at any of your own experiences in a new light? Do you think that it’s been helpful?
- What did you think about the author’s decision not to reveal “the line”? What is “the line” for you?
- How did the flashback scenes help you to better understand Grace in the present?
- “This whole generation is screwed.” Do you agree with Esme’s statement on the impact of social media on her generation?
- Did the book reveal anything about the aftermath of trauma that you hadn’t considered? Did you ever feel frustrated with the way Grace coped?
- “Look, you may not know this yet, but there are some bad people in the world, and while some of them get exactly what they deserve, others just don’t.” Do you think Grace’s opinion on this has changed by the end of the book? What do you think finally compels her to stand up to Able?
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For more book recommendations, check out:
- 7 of the best beach reads of the summer
- 15 diverse children's and young adult books recommended by kids
- Laura Bush released her summer book list — and it's perfect for young readers