Book Club Questions

  • Readers know from the title that the mother and son survive a brain tumor. Why do you think the author chose to do this? Does the title spoil the ending?
  • What themes made this memoir unique from other worried mother/ sick child memoirs?
  • How would you characterize Mike (the father)? How did his diabetes affect the trajectory of the story?
  • Discuss the helpful and unhelpful messages the author learned from her parents.
  • In Chapter 5, the author experiences what she later realizes was postpartum depression. Is it believable that she would not tell her husband about her violent thoughts?
  • Discuss the author’s binge eating.
  • How much do we know about Stephen, the younger brother? Is there a reason the author might have kept his profile in the book to a minimum?
  • In Chapter 7, the author asks, “Does blame lie at the feet of the person who doesn’t see the problem, or the person who sees the problem and doesn’t speak up?” How would you answer that question?
  • Is the author’s experience of being dismissed by doctors common? Should she have sued Dr. Peterson (the pediatrician)?
  • In Chapter 8, the author writes that Matthew’s tics “made him odd—which made me the mother of the odd kid.” How does society judge parents for their children’s behavior and appearance, and vice versa?
  • In Chapter 9, the author tells a whiny neighbor, “It sounds like your daughter has destroyed your image of what motherhood should be.” In what situations might this happen?
  • In Chapter 10, the author writes, “Other moms appeared to take all this in stride—sports, childhood bumps and bruises, the demands of motherhood, even the worrying.” Is that true?
  • How would an understanding of the concept of neurodiversity have helped the author through Matthew’s recovery?
  • Discuss She-Bear.
  • How might the challenges for people with mild, invisible impairments like Matthew’s as an adult compare to the challenges for those with more debilitating and obvious disabilities?
  • How is a medical diagnosis or an educational label helpful or hurtful to children? To adults?
  • The author refers to her Achilles heel: people-pleasing. What does that concept mean to you? Did you see it at work throughout the book?
  • In Chapter 24, the author refers to her son as Matt rather than Matthew. In Chapter 25, she switches from past tense to present tense. Why might she have made these changes?
  • This quote appears at the beginning of the book: “If you’re acting like a sheep, do not blame the shepherd.” How does this relate to the story of Growth?

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See a list of self-reflection questions here.