1. The concept of chasing for the gold is a running theme throughout the book. Beyond the actual gold medals at the Olympics, in what ways do characters search for their ‘gold’? In what ways do they achieve their ‘gold’?
2. Zoe’s competitiveness was one of the constants throughout the book. Why do you think she stopped and waited for Kate to finish the race properly? Is this an indication of a greater change in Zoe’s character? What sort of change? Would Kate have done the same thing if the situation had been reversed?
3. The relationship between Jack and Zoe is complicated. Examine in what ways the book remains ambiguous about their true feelings towards each other. Could they still harbor some emotion for each other?
4. What about Tom’s experience as a father? Why did his son react so violently to his father’s coaching? Is he seeking redemption through his treatment of his athletes, Zoe in particular? Does he succeed in redeeming himself?
5. Although it is not a major focus for most of the novel, the reader is given hints as to what Jack, Kate, and Zoe’s upbringings were like. What were their childhoods were like? Which character was probably happiest and why? Which character holds the most resentment? How is their upbringing reflected in their attitudes towards competition?
6. In the flashback to Kate’s childhood, we see things go wrong between her mother and father. Why do you think this happened? What do you think about the way her mother was treating her? What about her father? Was he trying to protect her from something?
7. Kate and Zoe’s complicated relationship creates the main focus of the book. Through flashbacks and the characters’ musings, we explore their relationship. In what ways is their relationship tested? In what ways is it made stronger? Is their relationship believable? Why have they remained friends throughout the years? Is it because, in Zoe’s case, she has no one else?
8. At the end of the novel, Sophie’s health takes a turn for the worse and both Jack and the coach fellow decide not to tell Kate just before her race. Was this the best action for them to take? Was it in Kate’s best interest? Was it in Sophie’s?
9. Sophie finds escapism from her situation through Star Wars. Consider ways the other characters find their escapes. What are they trying to get away from? Is it healthy?
10. At the end of the novel, Zoe sees Sophie in a weakened state at the hospital and finally confronts the memory of her dead brother. What exactly about the situation with Zoe brings on the memory of her brother? Why does Zoe decide not to tell Sophie the truth about her real mother right then and there?
11. The theme of loss recurs throughout the book. Interestingly, the characters that experience loss are not always worse off for it. In what ways do characters experience loss? Do they suffer for the loss or do they gain something in exchange? What sort of things do they gain?