SPOILER WARNING: These book discussion questions are highly detailed and will ruin plot points, if you have not read the book.
Title: Lone Wolf
Author: Jodi Picoult
Page Count: 421
Genre: Contemporary, Issue-driven, Relational
Tone: Bittersweet, Thought-provoking, Moving
1. At the core of Lone Wolf is Luke, a character who is revealed solely through flashbacks and others’ recollections. How would you describe him? Are we as readers supposed to admire him? Did your opinion of him change throughout the story?
2. One reviewer stated that “understanding [Luke] is the key to accepting the story.” Do you agree this is true? Was the author successful in helping you understand Luke?
3. What would motivate a man to live in the wild with a wolf pack for a year? Do you know of any true-life examples of this?
4. What did you learn about wolves from the book? How did this enhance the story? Were there any experiences that you found especially fascinating?
5. What is the distinction between a lone wolf and pack wolves? Why is this important?
6. In what ways do the lessons about wolf life mirror the circumstances and issues of the human family?
7. Early in the book, Luke complains that some people tend to attribute human emotions and motivations to animals. How is his explanation of wolf behavior different?
8. Picoult’s trademark style involves multiple first-person narrators contending with a difficult ethical issue. What are the advantages of this approach? Do all sides receive fair play, or do you think one or more viewpoints weren’t given as much weight? Is the author’s personal bias evident?
9. With which of the characters did you most easily empathize? Is this different from the character(s) you liked best?
10. Are there characters with whom you had trouble empathizing, even when you were hearing their own thoughts and feelings?
11. Were there any twists or developments that took you by surprise?
12. Throughout the book we’re given hints that more happened at the accident than we know. When the truth is revealed, does this help explain Cara’s actions? Would you have wanted to know this earlier in the story?
13. Is Edward’s sexuality important to the story? For much of the book, the reader (and most of the characters) believe that his coming out to his father was the reason he left the family. Does using this as a red herring undermine the importance of the topic?
14. The issue of medical advocacy is examined in several facets. Even though she was only 17, should Cara have been named her father’s proxy? How much weight should the handwritten document from years ago have carried?
15. What was your prediction when Luke opened his eyes and watched Cara move around the bed? How might this have impacted the story?
16. In your opinion, who really had Luke’s best interests at heart? Is it possible to make these decisions without our own baggage getting in the way?
17. What do you think Luke would have wanted?
18. What other issues related to quality of life were raised? Should more time have been taken before a decision was made? Should the fact that his organs were candidates for donation affect the decision?
19. How well did Picoult depict a family struggling with loss?
20. During the debate, contrasting arguments were made based first on Luke’s animal activism and later on the secret abortion. Do these actions have relevance to the decisions being made about his life? How might you weight them?
21. Georgie’s loyalties seem to change from one point in the story to another. Is this believable? Did you agree with her actions?
22. Were you surprised by Joe’s involvement? What did you think of his role?
23. How does Picoult portray her male characters as opposed to her female characters? Is this intentional? Have you noticed this in her other work?
24. Often Picoult’s books are described as page-turners, ones that are hard to put down and that are accessible due to the short chapters and different perspectives. Would you say this is true for Lone Wolf?
25. Are animals portrayed as equal to–or even superior to—people? In this story or in general?
26. Regardless of whether you had a strong reaction one way or the other, did it make you think? Is that a goal for which writers should strive?
Simon & Schuster reading group guide
author website resource page for Lone Wolf
The Huffington Post interview with Jodi Picoult
video interview with author
Discovery Channel documentary
NPR: “Why Are Wolf Scientists Howling at Jodi Picoult?”
The Washington Post review