2 reviews

The Opposite of Me: A Novel
by Sarah Pekkanen

Published: 2010-02-17
Kindle Edition : 404 pages
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7 clubs reading this now
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Recommended to book clubs by 2 of 2 members
Twenty-nine-year-old Lindsey Rose has, for as long as she can remember, lived in the shadow of her devastatingly beautiful fraternal twin sister, Alex. Determined to get noticed, Lindsey is finally on the cusp of being named creative vice president of an elite New York advertising agency, after ...
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Twenty-nine-year-old Lindsey Rose has, for as long as she can remember, lived in the shadow of her devastatingly beautiful fraternal twin sister, Alex. Determined to get noticed, Lindsey is finally on the cusp of being named creative vice president of an elite New York advertising agency, after years of eighty-plus hour weeks, migraines, and profound loneliness. But during the course of one devastating night, Lindsey’s carefully constructed life implodes. Humiliated and desperate, she flees the glitter of Manhattan and retreats to the time warp of her parents’ Maryland home. As her sister plans her lavish wedding to her prince charming, Lindsey struggles to maintain her identity as the smart, responsible twin, while she furtively tries to put her career back together. But things get more complicated when a long held family secret is unleashed that forces both sisters to reconsider who they are and who they are meant to be.

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Discussion Questions

From the publisher:

1. When you first encounter Lindsey Rose, what is your reaction to her workaholic attitude? Do you see it as justifiable in her profession?

2. Lindsey's nemesis in the office is Cheryl, and Lindsey is upset by how Cheryl uses her sexuality to advance her job. What do you think of Cheryl's tactics? Is Lindsey right to be so opposed to them?

3. What is your opinion of Alex, Lindsey's sister? Lindsey views her life as flawless -- do you agree with that characterization? Are there any clues you noticed that showed her life may be less than wonderful?

4. How would you describe the dynamic between Alex and Lindsey? How do being twins affect their relationship as adults, especially since Alex received so much attention growing up?

5. What did you think of the sisters' parents? Do you see their bumbling, funny personalities as having a balancing effect for their daughters?

6. When Lindsey hides in the bathroom and overhears how much Cynthia Givens' employees dislike their boss, why does it have such a big effect on her?

7. After Lindsey's shopping spree, how did her personality change? Was this just a superficial adjustment for her, or did it have a deeper effect? And why did she hide it from her parents and Alex?

8. Why do you think Lindsey didn't want to be with Bradley when they were younger? Did something else come into play besides the fact that Lindsey wasn't ready for a "real" relationship?

9. Describe the relationship between May and Lindsey. In what ways were their previous lives— Lindsey as an executive, May as a political wife—similar? In what ways did May rub off on Lindsey, and vice versa?

10. How does Alex's condition affect the relationship between the sisters? Was such a major event the only way they could start over, or do you think they would have eventually formed a better relationship anyway?

11. Do you think it's common for people to be assigned certain roles in their family – like the "pretty" sister or the "smart" one – and do you think those labels are fair? Were they fair to Lindsey and Alex? Do you feel like you have a certain label in your own family? Do you think it fits you?

12. How did Alex's flirtation with Bradley affect Lindsey's feelings for him? Do you believe Lindsey would've fallen for Bradley if he and Alex hadn't connected first? Do you think Lindsey would have been happy with Bradley if they'd ended up together?

13. How do you feel about the relationship that suddenly develops between Matt and Lindsey? Do you think it will last? Do you see Lindsey being happy staying in Maryland? Or do you think she will return to New York City?

14. Lindsey's mantra throughout later part of the story was to 'jump.' How did she eventually learn to do this? How has she changed since the story began?

Suggested by Members

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Notes From the Author to the Bookclub

A Conversation with Sarah Pekkanen from the Publisher

1. What was the inspiration for your book? Is it based on any real events in your life?

Nope; it's pure fiction. I'm lucky to have two brothers I adore, but I've always wondered what it would be like to have a sister. I'm fascinated by the rich, complex relationships my friends have with their sisters – so when it came time to write The Opposite of Me, I made the relationship between Lindsey and Alex as messy and loving and complicated and competitive as possible.

I'm also intrigued by the way people get assigned certain labels in their family, like the "smart" one, the "pretty sister," the "drama queen," or the "peacemaker." What if those labels don't fit how we feel inside? What if they're all wrong for who we are really meant to be?

2. What do you think the term "chick lit" means today? Is that what you would consider this story?

I think chick lit refers to fun, smart books about women who are figuring out their choices in life. As in every other genre, there is a wide range of books - some better than others. I'm not sure if The Opposite of Me will be classified as chick lit. I'm just hoping people will think of it as a good book!

3. Have you had bosses like the ones in the story? Or were you that type of driven employee yourself?

Luckily, I've never had the kind of bosses Lindsey had in New York (though I've had several bosses who turned into friends, like May did with Lindsey). I'm not especially driven – I watch far too much Reality TV and I have a love affair with Sunday afternoon naps -- but I am passionate about writing. I can't imagine my life without it. It's what I've wanted to do ever since I was a child, when I used to get in trouble in school for not paying attention and wandering into the wrong classroom ten minutes after the bell rang. I was busy creating stories in my mind – and I still do it today, which means I often miss my exit on the highway and don't realize it until half an hour later. By the way, my husband just loves this quality in me.

4. You are from Maryland yourself; did you find it easier to write about an area you knew?

Definitely: I knew it would be fun to write about my hometown and give cameos to my favorite spots and restaurants. But someday I'd love to stretch my imagination and create a fictional town as a setting, too. Can you imagine the sense of power as you create tall buildings and lakes and highways while you sip your morning cup of coffee?

5. Why did you decide to make Lindsey and Alex twins? Do you think that creates a special bond or competition between them?

I've always heard that twins do have a special connection, and some even create their own language as babies, or have a physical reaction at the precise moment something bad happens to the other one miles away. But when I sat down to write, I wondered what would happen if Lindsey and Alex were complete opposites. What if they had absolutely nothing in common, yet were constantly compared because they were twins? How would that shape their relationship?

6. The parents were such lovable, fun characters. Are they based on your own parents, or were you just hoping to add a lighthearted touch to the story?

Thank you! They're completely fictional, although my parents read The Opposite of Me and expressed suspicion about a few similarities (my parents adore Ikea's low-priced breakfasts, lingonberries and all). I love books that make me laugh, so I wanted Lindsey and Alex's parents to provide some comic relief. I grew really fond of the parents, and hope readers will, too.

7. Have you ever gone on a blind date? Why was that a field you decided to throw Lindsey into?

I've never been on a real blind date – I can only imagine the angst and phone calls to my friends and quantity of hair care products involved! - but I thought a dating service would provide such great material for a novel that I couldn't resist making it Lindsey's new workplace. It was interesting to dream up all the reasons why someone would seek out a dating service, and I tried to give Lindsey an eclectic mix of clients.

8. I'm sure everyone is curious: is honey on popcorn actually good?

Ooh, it's so good. One of my sons' babysitters made it that way once, and I loved it. As Alex says, it's "worth the sticky fingers." Try it!

9. Finally, what projects are you working on now?

I'm diving into the next book, which isn't a sequel and doesn't have a title yet (I'm terrible at coming up with titles; my editor dreamed up The Opposite of Me after I suggested a few clunkers). And I'm gearing up to meet with lots of groups and book clubs who want to discuss The Opposite of Me – please contact me via my website at www.sarahpekkanen.com if you'd like for me to visit or phone in to chat with your group!

Book Club Recommendations

Member Reviews

Overall rating:
  " The Opposite of Me"by little-sweetums (see profile) 01/17/11

Although this book generated interesting discussions most of the group was disappointed in the novel. The author used clever and humorous descriptions sprinkled throughout which certainly added to our... (read more)

  "The Opposite of Me"by allisonsacres (see profile) 06/16/10

Our club liked it, but it was not a book that lent well to discussion. It started out slow. It is a good summer read.

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