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Book club questions for Hello Stranger by Katherine Center explore the intriguing story of Sadie Montgomery, a woman whose life takes an unexpected turn after being diagnosed with face blindness.
Can you imagine seeing every face as a jumbled puzzle of disconnected features? It’s like reading a book upside down and in another language. As Sadie navigates her new reality, she also grapples with major family issues, holds onto her artistic dreams, and falls into a complicated love triangle. Talk about a whirlwind!
Now, let me take a moment to share why I absolutely loved this book. First off, Sadie is the perfect protagonist—a delightful blend of quirky, sunshiney, and stubborn. And let’s not forget about the men in her life—they are equally fascinating and will keep you guessing until the very end. But what truly sets this novel apart is the brilliant cast of characters. Even those you aren’t supposed to like manage to be annoyingly intriguing and captivating.
Reading “Hello Stranger” gave me a renewed appreciation for the unexpected twists and turns that life can throw our way. It reminded me that even when things seem blurry and out of focus, there are always alternative ways of seeing and finding our way back. This book will make you laugh, swoon, and perhaps shed a few tears, but most importantly, it will leave you with a sense of hope and a desire to discuss every fascinating detail.
In this blog post, I’ll provide a reading guide filled with thought-provoking book club questions and discussion prompts to deepen your understanding of this remarkable story. I hope you’ll enjoy this guide!
About the Story
In Hello Stranger, Sadie Montgomery’s life takes an unexpected turn when she goes from celebrating her achievement in the North American Portrait Society competition to waking up in a hospital bed, diagnosed with face blindness. Suddenly, every face she sees becomes a jumbled puzzle of disconnected features, like trying to read a book upside down and in another language. As Sadie grapples with this new reality, she also faces major family issues and strives to hold onto her artistic dream while caring for her beloved dog, Peanut.
Amidst it all, Sadie finds herself falling into a complicated love triangle. Is it love? Lust? A temporary distraction from her problems? She’s torn between two very different men, and the timing couldn’t be worse. If only her life were clearer, perhaps she could navigate her way through. But clarity seems impossible when everything appears blurry.
However, sometimes we discover the most when we’re not actively seeking. Unexpected people show up, and alternative perspectives emerge. Sadie’s journey is filled with quirky, sunshiney, and stubborn moments as she becomes the protagonist readers adore.
The romance in the novel is undeniably swoony, and even the supporting characters add humor, comfort, and intrigue. Center’s brilliant cast of characters, coupled with an engaging plot, promises to keep readers captivated from start to finish. As the Michigan Daily raves, “Hello Stranger” is an undeniable hit that will keep you turning the pages.
About the Author
Katherine Center is a bestselling author known as the “queen of comfort reads.” She has written ten novels, including popular titles like How to Walk Away and Things You Save in a Fire. Her stories are a mix of laughter and tears, focusing on how we overcome life’s challenges.
Comparisons to Jane Austen and Nora Ephron highlight her talent, and the Dallas Morning News describes her books as deeply satisfying. The movie adaptations of her novels The Lost Husband and Happiness for Beginners have found success on Netflix.
She lives in Houston with her family and their lovable dog.
I hope you and your book club will enjoy my discussion reading guide for Hello Stranger by Katherine Center.✨
- The novel “Hello Stranger” takes the strangers-to-lovers trope and elevates it by incorporating Sadie’s face blindness. How does this trope unfold throughout the story, and what makes it significant for both the narrative and Sadie’s character development? Additionally, are there other tropes such as love triangles or forced proximity that play a meaningful role in the story? Discuss their significance and impact.
- The book highlights the importance of family and the complexities within those relationships. Explore the dynamics between Sadie, her father, and her stepsisters. How do these relationships change and evolve throughout the story? Discuss the impact of family on Sadie’s journey of self-discovery and healing.
- Touch is portrayed as a powerful alternative to visual perception in Sadie’s artistic process. Delve into the symbolism and significance of Sadie using touch as a means to create her art. Discuss the role of physical intimacy, both in Sadie’s artistic expression and in her connection with Joe. How does this aspect contribute to the emotional depth of the story?
- Sadie’s journey as a portrait artist takes an unexpected turn when face blindness becomes a significant challenge. How does the author’s portrayal of Sadie’s struggle with face blindness add depth and complexity to her character? Discuss how this unique condition influences Sadie’s artistic process and her perception of the world around her.
- Forgiveness plays a crucial role in Sadie’s story, both in her relationships with others and in her personal growth. Explore the various instances where forgiveness is granted or sought. How does the act of forgiveness impact the characters involved and contribute to the overall narrative?
- The book explores the idea of finding joy in reading and the role of storytelling in our lives. Reflect on the author’s note at the end of the book, where Katherine Center discusses the value of romance novels. How does this resonate with your own reading experiences? Discuss the impact of reading for joy and the kind of stories that resonate with you personally.
- After undergoing surgery and being diagnosed with acquired apperceptive prosopagnosia, Sadie decides to keep her face blindness a secret from those who don’t need to know. Should Sadie have been more open about her condition, or was she right in keeping it to herself to avoid potential embarrassment? Explore the implications of her choice and its effects on her relationships and personal growth.
- Both Sadie and Joe have endured heartbreak and loss in their lives. Sadie lost her mother and subsequently the affection of her father, while Joe experienced the betrayal of his wife’s infidelity. How do these shared experiences of loss and heartbreak bring Sadie and Joe closer together? Analyze the emotional connection between these characters and how their pasts influence their relationship.
- In Chapter 11, Dr. Nicole Thomas-Ramparsad introduces Sadie to the concept of confirmation bias, explaining that people tend to form beliefs about the world and others, and then seek out evidence to support those beliefs. Discuss the significance of confirmation bias in the story. Drawing from the book’s description and your own understanding of confirmation bias, examine its potential impact on your own life and decision-making processes.
- In Chapter 1, Sadie mentions the mystery surrounding her mother’s portrait for the North American Portrait Society contest. However, after reconciling with her father, he sends her the portrait, leading Sadie to realize she can recognize her own face again. Delve into the significance of this scene in Chapter 29 and how it provides closure for Sadie’s character arc. Analyze the symbolic meaning of the portrait and its role in Sadie’s self-discovery and journey towards clarity.
- Painting serves as a significant thread throughout the story and holds immense value in Sadie’s life. In the end, Sadie realizes that art carries greater meaning to her than winning a contest. Do you believe the judges were fair in making snide comments about Sadie’s piece and withholding recognition? Although there isn’t an illustration of Sadie’s art, the author provides a detailed description. Based on this description, how does Sadie’s art evoke emotions within you, and do you think you would have reacted similarly to the judges?
- Explore the theme of forgiveness and its pivotal role in Sadie’s character development. Why does she choose to forgive Parker despite the hurtful words and actions inflicted upon her and others? How does Sadie’s act of forgiveness impact the relationship between her and her stepsisters?
- Sadie grew up believing her mother died of a stroke, but throughout the novel, she uncovers more about her mother’s actual passing and the events leading up to it. How does learning the truth about her mother shape Sadie’s feelings toward her mom and her relationship with her dad?
- In Chapter 26, Augusta Ross unexpectedly appears, shedding light on Parker’s lies. Did you anticipate that Augusta would be the same person to whom Sadie gave her dress at the coffee shop? Why is Augusta’s confirmation of the events from Sadie and Parker’s past so significant? Why do you think Parker withdrew when she realized Augusta’s identity and the truth unfolded to her mom and Sadie’s dad?
- In Chapter 2, Sadie explains her ability to assess faces for their shapes, structures, and defining features as a portrait artist. However, with her face blindness, Sadie struggles to create art until she discovers the power of touch as a new technique. Discuss how the loss of her ability to see faces ultimately helps Sadie create her most exceptional piece yet. Also, delve into the importance of physical intimacy in Sadie’s journey and her relationship with Joe.
- Did you suspect that Joe and Dr. Oliver Addison were the same person throughout the story, or did the revelation surprise you? Do you believe Joe/Oliver should have disclosed his true identity to Sadie sooner? Explore the possibilities and discuss how this revelation might have altered Sadie’s feelings for Joe/Oliver.
- Author Katherine Center has expressed how love stories can be nourishing to readers as they offer a sense of anticipation. Love stories generate hope as we eagerly anticipate the characters overcoming obstacles and finding each other. Despite the hardships Sadie faces, which force her to reevaluate her assumptions, she undergoes personal growth. By the story’s end, is Sadie a stronger and wiser individual? What role does falling in love play in her transformation?
- Center encourages us all to “read for joy,” seeking pleasure, fun, and play through our reading choices. How do you approach reading for joy in your own life? What criteria do you use when selecting books to read? What types of stories tend to captivate your attention and resonate with you on a deeper level?
- The romantic aspects of the story involve not just one, but two men who capture Sadie’s heart. Analyze the dynamics of Sadie’s relationships with both the veterinarian and her neighbor, Joe. How do these relationships evolve, and what do they reveal about Sadie’s desires and personal growth? Discuss your impressions of the romance and the unexpected twists it takes.
- The theme of perseverance and resilience is prominent throughout the book. Examine how Sadie’s determination to overcome obstacles and pursue her dreams shapes her character. Discuss specific moments in the story where Sadie’s perseverance shines and how it affects the outcomes for her personally and professionally.
“The latest from the author of The Bodyguard (2022) is a winsome tale of a woman overcoming adversity and learning to lean on the people who care about her.” –Booklist
“With a thoroughly modern millennial heroine at the helm, Center takes Sadie’s life seriously and her struggles with adulting resonate even before her face blindness sets in. Meanwhile, a dash of humor and an endearing love story make the pages fly. Readers will be hooked.” — Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)
“[A]uthor Katherine Center is back this summer with another voice-driven, funny, heartfelt and romantic escapist novel.” –Good Morning America Online
Hope you enjoyed my book club discussion questions and reading guide for Hello Stranger by Katherine Center!
Here are some more of my book club recommendations:
Same Time Next Summer by Annabel Monaghan
Do take long walks on the sand.
Do put an umbrella in every cocktail.
Do NOT run into your first love.
Sam’s life is on track. She has the perfect doctor fiancé, Jack (his strict routines are a good thing, really), a great job in Manhattan (unless they fire her), and is about to tour a wedding venue near her family’s Long Island beach house. Everything should go to plan, yet the minute she arrives, Sam senses something is off. Wyatt is here. Her Wyatt. But there’s no reason for a thirty-year-old engaged woman to feel panicked around the guy who broke her heart when she was seventeen. Right?
Yet being back at this beach, hearing notes from Wyatt’s guitar float across the night air from next door as if no time has passed—Sam’s memories come flooding back: the feel of Wyatt’s skin on hers, their nights in the treehouse, and the truth behind their split. Sam remembers who she used to be, and as Wyatt reenters her life their connection is as undeniable as it always was. She will have to make a choice.
Bodyguard by Katherine Center
She’s got his back.
Hannah Brooks looks more like a kindergarten teacher than somebody who could kill you with a wine bottle opener. Or a ballpoint pen. Or a dinner napkin. But the truth is, she’s an Executive Protection Agent (aka “bodyguard”), and she just got hired to protect superstar actor Jack Stapleton from his middle-aged, corgi-breeding stalker.
He’s got her heart.
Jack Stapleton’s a household name―captured by paparazzi on beaches the world over, famous for, among other things, rising out of the waves in all manner of clingy board shorts and glistening like a Roman deity. But a few years back, in the wake of a family tragedy, he dropped from the public eye and went off the grid.
They’ve got a secret.
When Jack’s mom gets sick, he goes home to the family’s Texas ranch to help out. Only one catch: He doesn’t want his family to know about his stalker. Or the bodyguard thing. And so Hannah―against her will and her better judgment―finds herself pretending to be Jack’s girlfriend as a cover. Even though her ex, says no one will believe it.
What could possibly go wrong?
Hannah hardly believes it, herself. But the more time she spends with Jack, the more real it all starts to seem. And there lies the heartbreak. Because it’s easy for Hannah to protect Jack. But protecting her own, long-neglected heart? That’s the hardest thing she’s ever done.
Under the Influence by Avery Kane
Shay Archer dreamed of a job in journalism, one that would allow her to review bands and sample good food. She got her wish when The Bourbon Street Bugle hired her and set her loose on the Big Easy.
But now she’s at a crossroads.
Grady Dalton has more charm than should be allowed by law but he’s all flirt and no substance. He likes hard news and doesn’t have time for fluff…even if the fluff causes his heart to race.
Now he’s struggling to find his place in a brave new world.
When the newspaper makes a shift, goes for influencer pieces instead of real news, Shay and Grady are left scrambling for their jobs. Then they stumble upon a winning formula by accident. The only problem? It means working together, and on a daily basis.
They’re not friends, but can they stop being enemies? That’s the question of the day.
Shay can’t afford to lose her job. Grady doesn’t like to lose. Together, they make magic…even if they don’t yet realize it.
The clock is ticking. Will they recognize the solution is right in front of them? Or will they lose everything because they can’t see the truth?