65 reviews

Look Again
by Lisa Scottoline

Published: 2010-02-09
Library Binding : 385 pages
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93 clubs reading this now
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Recommended to book clubs by 55 of 65 members
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Discussion Questions

1) Look Again really examines the notion of parenthood. What do you think makes someone a parent? Do you think the bond a child has with a non-biological parent can be as strong as one they would have with a biological parent? Why?
2) Lisa’s favorite quote is one from Eleanor Roosevelt: “A woman is like a tea bag. You never know how strong she is until she’s in hot water.” How does Ellen prove that she is a strong woman? Does Ellen remind you of anyone you know? Could you relate to Ellen, and did you like her? Why or why not?

3) As a journalist, Ellen has a heightened need to find the truth. In this circumstance, was this a good thing, or a bad thing? What would you have done in Ellen’s place? Would you have looked for the truth, even if it meant losing your son? What do you think were Ellen’s motivations?

4) The idea of “letting go” a child helped shape the whole premise of the book for Lisa, which led her to thinking about who really “owns” a child. Who do you think “owns” a child, and what exactly does that mean? If children actually “own” themselves, what then is the role of parents, and what are the limitations on parenthood?

5) If the child you raised and loved with all your heart actually belonged to someone else, and you were the only one who knew, would you give the child up? How do you think those around you would react? Who in your life would agree with your decision, and who would have done the opposite?

6) How would you describe Ellen’s relationship with her father and how do you think it changed over the course of the book? Ellen considered her mother her go to parent. Do you think everyone has a go to parent, and what defines them as such?

7) What effect do you think all the drama in Will’s life will have on him in the future? Do you think things ultimately worked out to his benefit or detriment and why?

8) How do you feel about single parents adopting children? What kind of, if any, additional requirements do you think should be put on single parents before they can adopt? How do you feel about open adoption? Is it better or worse for children? Is it better or worse for the adoptive parents? The biological parents? At what age do you think a child should be told they are adopted?

Suggested by Members

To tell the turth or not?
by FtLaudGal (see profile) 04/01/10

Notes From the Author to the Bookclub

The premise of LOOK AGAIN is that a Ellen Gleeson sees the face of her legally adopted child on a missing child flyer, and she must decide whether or not to give up her child, if he rightfully belongs to someone else. It is an emotionally-charged story about the depth of a mother's love and the search for the truth. The idea for the story came to me when I was dropping my daughter off for college, and thinking about how hard it was to let her go. Then it occurred to me that letting her go would be much easier if I understood that she really didn't belong to me. She belongs to herself, and I was just lucky enough to love and raise her. It made me really think about the issue of who really owns a child, and this developed into the idea for LOOK AGAIN.

When reading LOOK AGAIN, I hope that readers will feel a real connection to Ellen, and ask themselves what they would do if they were in Ellen's position. Interestingly, if you ask a room full of people the same question, I bet there will be a lot of different answers. This is why this book will keep book clubs talking long after the last bottle of wine is finished.

From the publisher--A Conversation with Lisa Scottoline

Is it true that you had the idea for writing Look Again when your daughter went to college? What about that experience triggered the idea for this novel?

Yes. Look Again started in my mind when I was driving my daughter home from college and, like most parents, we have some of our best conversations in the car, probably because she’s a captive audience. And I realized as much as I loved being with my daughter, she was about to graduate from college and I was about to let her go into the great beyond, which doesn’t come easily to any of us, least of all an Italian mother. It got me thinking that the fact that I didn’t want to let her go was to suggest that somehow I own her, and we don’t own our children. The germ of the idea became Look Again because the novel really raises the question: Who does this child ultimately belong to? Is it either parent? Or is it actually, in the end, the child himself?

You say you’ve always been a fan of “write what you know.” How did your being a single mom influence Look Again?

I’ve been a single parent of most all of my life, with one really terrific daughter, and I do draw upon my memories of raising her, as well as something more fundamental. I wouldn’t suggest that the relationship between a single parent and a child is different or better than that between a parent who is married and has a child, but I do know this much: As a single parent, I was always aware that I was the person my daughter depended on, and I still am. And twenty years ago, I began to write because I wanted to stay home and raise her, and those first few years before I was published, and even thereafter, were some lean times, without any backstop. I’m not complaining, mind you, because on the contrary, those were some of the happiest times of my life. I was raising my daughter during the day and writing novels at night, feeling completely fulfilled, from my heart out to my very skin. We shared a special connectedness, and we still do. For me, I felt a heightened responsibility to her, since I was the one on the front line when she got sick, or fell down, or brought home her first drawing of a rainbow. Writing from what you know has a special meaning when you’re writing what you live and what you love. All of that love and life is in Look Again.

This story certainly shares similarities with others you’ve written (for one thing, it’s another suspenseful page turner) but it seems to take on new social issues in a new way. Do you see Look Again as something of a departure for you?

Look Again is a departure because the main character isn’t in the legal field, but the real truth is that, though my books have been defined as legal thrillers, they aren’t at all. I never saw them that way, and I still don’t. I saw them as stories about women who were strong, clever, and fully realized and, as such, got themselves into trouble and then out again. Maureen Corrigan calls them “female adventure novels” in her book, and I’m honored by that. My characters are never defined by their occupation any more than I am, and I think it’s a new, more modern way to look at character, to look beyond what they do for a living to whom they really are inside, at soul level. In my own case, I’m a mother before I’m a writer or a lawyer, and so it was wonderful for me to write about a character who has trouble seeing herself as a mother initially, not only because she adopted her child but because she has some insecurities herself, and then eventually she comes to understand that if you’re mothering, you’re a mother.

As for social issues, every single one of my books always concerned questions of what is justice and what is law, which is just another way of saying what is right and what is wrong, or what is good and what is evil. This struggle lies at the heart of Ellen Gleeson’s decision whether to keep her son. I loved the complexity of her dilemma, and at the same time loved how accessible it so that everybody picking up the novel could easily see themselves in her situation, from page one.

When writing your books, do you know how they’re going to end, or is the ending a surprise even to you? And what was the case with Look Again?

When I started the book, I didn’t know how it was going to end; in fact, I didn’t even know how it was going to middle. I don’t write with an outline. Instead, I write the book one step at a time, and try to determine what would logically happen next. This formula works for me, and I find that it allows me more flexibility when I’m writing and a natural order to the book. It also keeps the writing process very exciting for me, because I’m anxious to figure out the end as well.

What’s the question you get most often at your book signing events or from fan emails?

I love to answer “where do you get your ideas,” and I get that the most. Ask me next time you see me. Also I get tons of comments and questions about my characters, which makes me happy because I think relationships are the beating heart of this book, and all my others. I try to write fast-paced, page-turning novels but I’m very conscious of the need for strong, well-developed characters. Thankfully, my readers have really responded to the characters I’ve created and they seem to be able to relate to them. I try to write about ordinary people who face extraordinary situations and come out the other side even better and stronger, and I suspect that many of my readers can see themselves in these characters. I can, I know.

What are your favorite elements to explore when writing fiction?

The same things that draw me into books I enjoy reading are the same things that I enjoy writing. I love a book that grabs you and makes you want to turn the page, I love books that have fully-realized and well-developed characters, and I love writing about themes that are most important to me, and I suspect most of my readers, such as love, family, friendship, and the perfect tomato sauce!

What constitutes a satisfying conclusion to you in fiction—whether reading it or writing it?

For me, a satisfying conclusion to a book, whether I’m reading or writing it, is when I’m anxious to reach the end of the book, but sorry when it is actually done.

Your book Why My Third Husband Will Be a Dog (available from St. Martin’s Press) is a collection of pieces you wrote from your popular Philadelphia Inquirer column. What made you want to write this column?

In my novels, my trademark heroine is always a strong, smart, sexy female character, but she isn’t superwoman. She’s an ordinary woman whose inner strength, intelligence, and humor make her extraordinary, much like the women I know, and I suspect, much like the women who read my work. I think of these characters as tea bags, as in that great Eleanor Roosevelt quote: “A woman is like a tea bag. You never know how strong she is until she’s in hot water.” Writing the column gives me the opportunity to celebrate, in a humorous way, the everyday lives of real ordinary, extraordinary women by sharing my own experiences. Why My Third Husband Will Be a Dog includes seventy vignettes on everything from motherhood and love to wrestling with Spanx and trying to keep our roots touched up. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, and you’ll swear off pantyhose.

Book Club Recommendations

by keidem (see profile) 07/17/15

Member Reviews

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by Jessie F. (see profile) 05/08/18

by Christie L. (see profile) 09/17/17

by Tara O. (see profile) 02/26/17

by Jennifer G. (see profile) 01/20/16

  "Look Again"by Kristi E. (see profile) 07/17/15

Definitely worth the read. Fast, and easy read.

  "Look Again"by rebecca w. (see profile) 06/27/15

Easy book to read. Kept me interested throughout. At times found myself crying and on the edge of my seat. Did and didn't end as I predicted. There was a twist at the end that was unexpected.

  "Zzzzzz"by Michael M. (see profile) 10/02/14

The reason I recommend this book for book groups is that a good discerning book group can always use a bad example of a good book. In other words, you can't appreciate excellent literature unless you... (read more)

  "What would you do?"by Cheryl K. (see profile) 05/21/14

Thought provoking. Mixed opinions regarding what would you do? Generated conversation in our bookclub. Not everyone agreed!

  "VERY slow start, but ended okay"by Mandy B. (see profile) 04/28/14

This first 60% of this book was EXTREMELY slow and I was not very motivated to pick it up and continue reading. Definitely not a page turner...until the end. The last part of the book beca... (read more)

  "quick and good"by Kristi B. (see profile) 07/13/13

Quick reads that are well written are a bonus when we are busy. This is a fantastic book that keeps you turning the pages late into the night. Our book club, the Book Chatters, enjoyed this ... (read more)

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