Study Guide

Life After Life Family

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You can pick your friends, and you can pick your nose, but you can't pick your family or your grandma's nose… or something like that. We don't have the saying exactly right, but the core truth is correct: You can't pick your family. Your mother and father will always be your mother and father, your bratty older brother will always be your bratty older brother, your wise sister always your wise sister, and your sweet baby brother always your sweet baby brother. Ursula's family is like this in Life After Life. No matter how much her life changes, her family almost always seems to stay the same.

Questions About Family

  1. How does Ursula's family change during each of her lives? How do they stay consistent? Be specific, please.
  2. Ursula rarely forms a family of her own. Why? What inspires her to form a family of her own the one time she does so?
  3. How does having—and losing—a daughter change the way Ursula lives subsequent lives? Does the abortion affect her, too?

Chew on This

Ursula forms motherly bonds with other members of her family—like her younger brother, Teddy—because she cannot bear to bring a child of her own into the world.

Sylvie believes that being a mother is the most important thing for a woman, and her daughters each take this in a different way: Pamela has tons of kids, while Ursula cares for her younger brothers.

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