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Sight Reading

May contain: publication, book, cello, and musical instrument

The novel's epigraph is a quote from Plato's SYMPOSIUM. What insights does it offer regarding the story that follows?

How does raising a teenager shift the dynamics between the adults in the story? How would you define Jessie's relationship with each of her parents and with her stepmother?

How do the varied backgrounds of Hazel, Remy and Nicholas shape the people they are? For what differing reasons are Hazel and Remy drawn to Nicholas?

As part three of the novel opens, another decade has passed. How has the passage of time affected the protagonists and their outlook on life, love, and work? In what ways have they remained the same? Did your feelings for them change over the course of the novel? Which character do you think evolves the most?

Early in the story, Hazel believes she sees her doppelgänger. What does this portend for her? Why do you think she is seeing herself outside of herself?

Was Nicholas unfaithful to Remy? Do you think couples should be allowed to have a few secrets that they don't share with each other? Is Remy reacting to a perceived betrayal or to her own guilt?

Would Hazel and Nicholas's marriage have endured if Remy hadn't pursued Nicholas? Why do you think Nicholas takes up with Remy? What does she offer him that Hazel does not?

There is much discussion in SIGHT READING about what makes something "art" or not. What are your thoughts on the various characters' definitions of art? How do you define "art"?

Early on, Remy wants to live "brilliantly. Freely, decadently…" How does one live freely and decadently, and what are the benefits or drawbacks of doing so? Is it possible for a cautious, careful person to truly learn to let go? Conrad Lesser advises Remy to, "Always be prepared for the unexpected," even as he helps her tap into her desire for freedom; is it possible to live a free, decadent life, yet still be prepared? How does Lesser's advice influence Remy's choices later in life?

Early on, Nicholas says that "tempo is about more than just speed...It's about the passage of time, really. In our lives...Not just how fast or how slowly the music moves. It's about how fast and slow life moves." How is this reflected in the story? How would you characterize the tempo of the novel?

When part two begins, the story has moved ahead a decade. How have the intervening years affected the trio? How does their own self-involvement color their perceptions of each other?

Besides the title's musical reference --- to playing music at first sight, when reading the notes for the first time --- what other significance does sight-reading have to the story? What can sight-reading teach us about life and how to live?

How does her medical affliction impact Hazel's self-image? Why does she still hold on to the past --- what is it that prevents her from moving on? Why is it difficult to see other people being happy when we don't feel that way ourselves?

When the book opens, Hazel is reminded of her own theory "that what was one person's bane was another's savior and that, in the grand scheme of things, everything worked out in the end." Do you think her theory has merit? How does it play out as the novel unfolds?

How does Remy's happiness --- or the lack of it --- affect her professional life?

Consider Nicholas's relationship with Yoni. What are the unspoken nuances of this friendship? When Yoni tells Nicholas, "I sometimes find you careless with Remy's heart," is he correct in his assessment?

Does an artist have to forget, or take for granted, the outside world and even the people he or she loves for the purposes of his or her art?

Do you sympathize with the choices Remy makes concerning Yoni? What is your opinion of Yoni?