Reading Group Guide Be Mine By Laura Kasischke

About the book: On Valentine’s Day, Sherry finds an anonymous note in her mailbox: be mine. As the notes continue, Sherry becomes more and more charged by the idea that she can inspire such feelings. Her twenty-year marriage is routine and she feels old, aimless, and empty now that her son is in college. When she discovers who her admirer is, she begins a wildly passionate affair with him. But soon events spiral out of Sherry’s control, threatening not only her marriage but also her son and her home. This deeply erotic thriller explores how little we know ourselves and those we live with, and what we risk when we allow passion to rule our lives.

About the author: LAURA KASISCHKE is the author of three previous novels and six collections of poetry. She lives in Chelsea, Michigan.

Discussion Questions: 1. How did you react to the ominous opening line, in which Sherry discovers blood in her driveway? How does the author “seduce” you as she balances menacing scenes and exhilarating ones? 2. What is the effect of having Sherry narrate her own story? How did your opinion of her shift as you read this first-person account of her unraveling? 3. How is Sherry affected by her father’s struggles? What does his presence say to her about the cycles of life? How does Chad respond to his grandfather’s failing health? 4. What is Sherry’s response to her feelings of “planned obsolescence” as her son becomes an adult? Do any of her memories of Chad provide clues to his state of mind? Do mothers and sons respond to their changing roles differently than mothers and daughters do? 5. What does Sherry’s figure mean to her? How does she perceive herself when she looks over her gym perfected body? 6. What do you see as Sherry’s true motives for beginning her affair with Bram? What was your best guess regarding the source of the anonymous notes? How did you interpret Jon’s words to Sherry while they are making love?

7. Discuss the power of sex in Be Mine. Is Sherry attached to Bram for sexual reasons only? How would you have responded in her situation? Who were the most sexually tempting people you have ever encountered? 8. Sherry remembers that her early sexual experiences involved voyeurism and the feeling that she was being used. Do these themes recur later in her life? What is at the core of Jon’s fantasies? Does Bram’s possessiveness—even bondage—arouse her, or does she just tolerate it in order to receive other types of gratification? 9. The title presents the themes of jealousy and control that permeate the novel. How do people balance their wish for a monogamous relationship with the challenge of staying faithful? In terms of intensity, is there any difference between the jealous emotions lovers feel and the jealousy children feel regarding their parents’ affections? Why does Chad take more extreme measures than Jon does? 10. What are Sue’s true motivations throughout the novel? What does Jon’s revelation tell you about him? 11. Are Jon and Sherry compatible, or do they possess so many differences that it is inevitable for them to have affairs? Do partners in all long-standing marriages face the risk of boredom or identity issues as both spouses grow and change? 12. Whom do you blame for Garrett’s death? 13. Which of the outcomes outlined in the novel’s closing paragraphs surprised you the most? Does Jon and Sherry’s life stop evolving as they try to live in the shadow of secrecy and tragedy? 14. What threads link Be Mine to Laura Kasischke’s previous novels and poetry? What shapes her descriptions of inner lives?