If, Then Readers Guide
Questions and Topics for Discussion:
If, Then takes inspiration from the concept of counterfactuals. On page 21, Cass says, “If I hadn’t been assigned a cubical in the sciences library, I would never have met Amar,” and “If I’d remembered to pack my birth control pills on our camping trip to the redwoods, Leah wouldn’t exist.” What’s a counterfactual from your own life?
How does the natural world affect the experiences of each of the four main characters? How would you describe nature as a force in the book?
When and why in your own life have you felt—as Cass and Ginny do—that you wanted or needed to be in two places at once?
The main characters are at different points in their lives. How does the novel represent the various phases of family life?
Was there one character you identified with more than the others? Why?
There are a lot of workplace scenes in the novel. How do the characters’ jobs shape them as people? How do their jobs affect their relationships with others?
Place is a vivid component in the novel. How would you describe the town of Clearing?
The novel charts the disintegration of Ginny and Mark’s marriage over the course of the story. What do you think went wrong in their relationship?
Samara finds it difficult to let go of her parents’ house, and the memories associated with it. Do you feel as she does about your own childhood home?
What do you think is causing the visions?