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Reading Group Guide

  1. Book ImageThe Unseen World: A Novel

    Liz Moore

    The moving story of a daughter’s quest to discover the truth about her beloved father’s hidden past.

Discussion Questions

  1. After finishing the novel, reread the conversation that occurs in the Prologue. What does this conversation imply about the narrator of the story?
  2. On page 90 when David returns from his surprising absence, “Ada knew for the first time she could no longer hope to protect David from…anyone’s judgment.” How does this sort of “protection by omission” occur throughout the story?
  3. Do you think David should have told Ada the truth? Why do you think he kept his past to himself?
  4. Ashamed for locking David in their house while she was out, Ada thinks “she had made the best decision she could make” (page 134) given the situation. How is this true for other characters at different moments throughout the novel?
  5. Consider David’s past and how he donned a new persona—allowing himself, in essence, to lead a new life. Do you think rejecting the past can free us to live more honest lives? How does this play out in David’s life? How does it differ for Ada?
  6. Why is Ada unable to bear visiting her father in the facility, but habitually returns to her childhood home to be among his things?
  7. On page 193, after Ada learns that David has lied about his past, she feels “a deep and abiding rage was growing inside of her, alarming in its intensity, directed mainly at Liston.” Why is she angry at Liston? Do you understand her rage?
  8. As adults, Gregory visits Ada and admits that Liston was in love with David. Ada can’t believe it, and he remarks on page 335: “ ‘You were both like that,’ he said. ‘You Sibeliuses.’ His voice had taken on an edge, and Ada could not identify its source.” What does Gregory mean by this?
  9. When Ada finally decodes her father’s note, it bears a startling resemblance to the note he affixed to the disk on page 31: “A puzzle for you. With my love, your father, David Sibelius.” Why does the author make the two notes so similar?
  10. We learn “The Unseen World” refers to an invention David was attempting to create. What is it exactly? What is behind his desire to make it?
  11. Much of the novel is told in the third person, but the last chapter switches to the first person. What does this switch say about David’s ability to create a virtual reality?

About Liz Moore

Liz Moore is the author of the acclaimed novel Heft. A winner of the 2014 Rome Prize in Literature, she lives in Philadelphia.

Books by Liz Moore

  1. Book CoverHeft: A Novel

    “A stunningly sad and heroically hopeful tale. . . . This is a beautiful novel about relationships of the most makeshift kind.”—O, The Oprah MagazineMore

  2. Book CoverThe Unseen World: A Novel

    The moving story of a daughter’s quest to discover the truth about her beloved father’s hidden past.More