Book Club Discussion Questions – She Has A Broken Thing Where Her Heart Should Be

  1. Jack knows from an early age that he’s destined to be with Stella. Do you believe in love at first sight? Has it happened to you or someone you know?
  2. Duncan is that friend we know is bad for us, but we love anyway. How does Duncan redeem himself? How does Jack forgive Duncan?
  3. Charter may be fictional, but the United States has a history of top secret government labs and experimentations. How likely is it that an experiment such as this is happening right now?
  4. A recurring theme in this book is, “How far would you go to save your one true love?” We saw how far Jack was willing to go. What other books, films, or television series share this theme? How are they alike or different from this book’s theme?
  5. Through the decades, we see Jack grow into adulthood. What obstacles did he face that were unique to his life? Which obstacles do we all face as we grow up?
  6. David Pickford is a complicated villain. Perhaps trauma early in life shaped him into the person he became. How much of David’s story would you attribute to trauma? How much responsibility should he take for everything that’s happened?
  7. Brentwood, a neighborhood in Pittsburgh, is a character in the story. How does this gritty city set the mood? Why does Stella (and Charter) wear white in this environment?
  8. Jack could be described as, “rough around the edges.” However, his Aunt Jo instilled values and a strong work ethic in him as a child. Is Jack a product of his environment? Has he been natured or nurtured?
  9. Several characters struggle with addiction. What role does addiction play in the story? For your favorite character, how do they thrive despite the addiction?
  10. Stella seems to be in a constant push/pull cycle with Jack, her “little Pip.” Why does her desire for Jack change throughout the story?
  11. Have you read GREAT EXPECTATIONS? If so, what connections can you draw between that story and this one?
  12. Much of the story is set in the 1980s and 1990s. If you lived through those decades, how does Jack’s world compare to yours at that time? If you’re too young to remember the 1980s and 1990s, how does the author present the time period compared to other popular, nostalgic shows and films today?
  13. If you were to create a Spotify playlist for this book, which songs would you include? Why?
  14. Detective Joy Fogel won’t give up on the case, even when Faustino Brier wants her to. Have you ever been compelled to find an answer to something, even if you knew you might never discover it? If so, what kept you going?
  15. When Krendal’s Diner explodes, Jack faces a “dark night of the soul.” All seems lost. How does he carry on?
  16. When Jack finds Stella in Nevada, both characters know her fate. Why does Stella refuse to sustain herself by stealing the life force of “bad people?”
  17. The story begins and ends in Pittsburgh, but the characters take us to the West Coast and back again. How does “the chase” intensify the pace of the book? How did you feel as you approached the surprising but inevitable conclusion?
  18. In the beginning of the book, Jack confesses to murder to save his one true love, Stella. Do you think what he did was justified? Why or why not?
  19. The story ends with Jack and Stella together, and they have started a family. How did this make you feel?
  20. If you could continue Jack and Stella’s story, what would you like to see happen next?


To book J.D. Barker for an appearance with your club, please submit a note via the contact form with “Book Club” in the subject.