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Book club questions for Happiness Falls by Angie Kim explore the themes of family bonds, identity, and the profound impact of secrets on individuals and relationships.
I really loved this book and could hardly put it down. It was suspenseful and also heartwarming. Empathetic and honest. With wonderful characters, and sharp dialogue. Angie is truly a masterful story teller, a maestro of the written word!
Happiness Falls by Angie Kim
I hope you will enjoy the thoughtfully crafted book club questions tailored for Happiness Falls in this blog post. Further below you will also find a downloadable PDF version I’ve prepared for your book clubs (available at the bottom of the post), along with supplementary suggestions for books that share similar themes and narratives.
Let me know if you find these book club questions useful. I’m excited to hear your unique perspectives during your book club discussions!
About the Story
Happiness Falls by Angie Kim is a gripping novel that revolves around a biracial Korean American family living in Virginia. The story begins when the father and younger brother disappear during a routine walk, leaving the family bewildered.
The daughter, Mia, initially assumes they’ll return soon, but as time passes, it becomes evident that something is seriously wrong. Complicating matters, the younger brother, Eugene, who is the only witness, has Angelman syndrome and cannot speak.
The novel follows Mia’s desperate quest to find her missing father, unraveling shocking twists and delving into the family’s deepest secrets.
It’s a mystery, a family drama, and a thought-provoking exploration of love, language, and human connections, showcasing Angie Kim’s exceptional storytelling.
About the Author
Angie Kim, originally from Seoul, South Korea, moved to Baltimore when she was young. She attended Interlochen Arts Academy and later studied philosophy at Stanford University.
She then went on to Harvard Law School, where she served as an editor for the Harvard Law Review. Her first book, Miracle Creek, earned her several awards and recognition, including the Edgar Award and the ITW Thriller Award. It was also praised by various publications as one of the best books of the year.
Angie, named one of Variety Magazine’s “10 Storytellers to Watch,” has contributed to The New York Times Book Review, The Washington Post, Vogue, Glamour, and other literary journals.
She currently lives in northern Virginia with her family and has released her second novel, Happiness Falls.
Book Club Questions for Happiness Falls
- The novel opens with the line, “We didn’t call the police right away.” How did this first line set the tone for the story? Did it capture your attention immediately?
- The story is told from the perspective of Mia, the daughter of the missing father, Adam. How did you find Mia’s narrative voice? How did her perspective influence your understanding of the events?
- Mia’s twin brother, John, is characterized as the “good boy” in the family. How did you perceive John’s role in the story and his relationship with Mia and Eugene?
- Detective Janus is named after a Roman god associated with beginnings and endings. How did her character and actions reflect the implications of her name in the story?
- Mia, the protagonist, is described as hyper-verbal and analytical. How did her narration style impact your reading experience? Did it enhance or hinder your understanding of the story and its characters?
- The book delves into the challenges of living with a neurodivergent family member, in this case, Eugene, who has Angelman Syndrome and is non-verbal. How did the novel portray the dynamics within the Parkson family, and how did their experiences resonate with you as a reader?
- The theme of happiness and the “happiness quotient” theories play a significant role in the story. How did you interpret the various discussions and experiments related to happiness in the book? Did they add depth to the narrative, or did they feel distracting?
- The story incorporates footnotes within the narrative to share Mia’s opinions and musings. How did these footnotes enhance or influence your reading experience?
- “Happiness Falls” is not just a mystery but also a family drama and a novel of philosophical inquiry. How did the combination of these elements contribute to your overall enjoyment of the book?
- The story takes place during the COVID-19 pandemic. How did the pandemic influence the characters and their actions throughout the novel? Did it impact your reading experience, considering it’s a recent real-world event?
- The narrative uses various clues, texts, and footnotes to explore multiple theories about Adam’s disappearance. Did you find these elements engaging or overwhelming? How did they affect your experience of solving the mystery?
- Mia undergoes personal growth and self-discovery throughout the novel. How did her character evolve, and what did you think of her transformation by the end of the story?
- Without giving away spoilers, were you satisfied with the resolution of the mystery surrounding Adam’s disappearance? Did the ending meet your expectations, or were you left with lingering questions?
- In what ways does the book challenge common stereotypes about family, communication, and happiness?
- How did the author, Angie Kim, balance the mystery plot with the exploration of family dynamics and neurodiversity in the novel? Did you find this balance effective?
- If you’ve read Angie Kim’s previous novel, “Miracle Creek,” how does “Happiness Falls” compare in terms of its themes, characters, and overall storytelling?
Hope you enjoyed the book club discussion questions and reading guide for Happiness Falls by Angie Kim!
Here are some more of my book club recommendations related to this book:
Hello Beautiful by Ann Napolitano
William Waters grew up in a house silenced by tragedy, where his parents could hardly bear to look at him, much less love him—so when he meets the spirited and ambitious Julia Padavano in his freshman year of college, it’s as if the world has lit up around him. With Julia comes her family, as she and her three sisters are inseparable: Sylvie, the family’s dreamer, is happiest with her nose in a book; Cecelia is a free-spirited artist; and Emeline patiently takes care of them all. With the Padavanos, William experiences a newfound contentment; every moment in their house is filled with loving chaos.
But then darkness from William’s past surfaces, jeopardizing not only Julia’s carefully orchestrated plans for their future, but the sisters’ unshakeable devotion to one another. The result is a catastrophic family rift that changes their lives for generations. Will the loyalty that once rooted them be strong enough to draw them back together when it matters most?
An exquisite homage to Louisa May Alcott’s timeless classic, Little Women, Hello Beautiful is a profoundly moving portrait of what is possible when we choose to love someone not in spite of who they are, but because of it.
Romantic Comedy by Curtis Sittenfeld
Sally Milz is a sketch writer for The Night Owls, a late-night live comedy show that airs every Saturday. With a couple of heartbreaks under her belt, she’s long abandoned the search for love, settling instead for the occasional hook-up, career success, and a close relationship with her stepfather to round out a satisfying life.
But when Sally’s friend and fellow writer Danny Horst begins dating Annabel, a glamorous actress who guest-hosted the show, he joins the not-so-exclusive group of talented but average-looking and even dorky men at the show—and in society at large—who’ve gotten romantically involved with incredibly beautiful and accomplished women. Sally channels her annoyance into a sketch called the Danny Horst Rule, poking fun at this phenomenon while underscoring how unlikely it is that the reverse would ever happen for a woman.
Enter Noah Brewster, a pop music sensation with a reputation for dating models, who signed on as both host and musical guest for this week’s show. Dazzled by his charms, Sally hits it off with Noah instantly, and as they collaborate on one sketch after another, she begins to wonder if there might actually be sparks flying. But this isn’t a romantic comedy—it’s real life. And in real life, someone like him would never date someone like her . . . right?
With her keen observations and trademark ability to bring complex women to life on the page, Curtis Sittenfeld explores the neurosis-inducing and heart-fluttering wonder of love, while slyly dissecting the social rituals of romance and gender relations in the modern age.
Nineteen Steps by Millie Bobby Brown
Love blooms in the darkest days…
It’s 1942, and London remains under constant threat of enemy attack as the second world war rages on. In the Bethnal Green neighborhood, Nellie Morris counts every day lucky that she emerges from the underground shelters unharmed, her loving family still surrounding her.
Three years into the war, she’s grateful to hold onto remnants of normalcy—her job as assisting the mayor and nights spent at the local pub with her best friend. But after a chance encounter with Ray, an American airman stationed nearby, Nellie becomes enchanted with the idea of a broader world.
Just when Nellie begins to embrace an exciting new life with Ray, a terrible incident occurs during an air raid one evening, and the consequences are catastrophic. As the truth about that night is revealed, Nellie’s world is torn apart. When it seems all hope is lost, Nellie finds that, against all odds, love and happiness can triumph.
Nineteen Steps is a deeply affecting, mesmerizing page-turner inspired by the author’s family history. An epic story of longing, loss, and secrets, Millie Bobby Brown’s propulsive debut introduces an unforgettable, brave young woman and boldly portrays the strength in the power of love.
Feel free to distribute these discussion questions to your book club members before your meeting. Simply click the link below to download and print the PDF file.
Happy reading! ❤️