Browse Reading Guides

Reading Group Guide

  1. Book ImageAvalanche: A Love Story

    Julia Leigh

    An intensely personal narrative of loss, hope, and longing for a child.

Discussion Questions

  1. Julia Leigh describes her rounds of failed IVF treatment as “half-grief, forestalled grief…a kind of hell.” What does she mean by “half-grief”? Is there something about the nature of IVF that lends itself to this experience? (107)
  2. One of Leigh’s friends thinks IVF is “as astonishing as the science that put a man on the moon. Her gratitude to her doctor is enormous. In her eyes he is like a pioneer or astronaut.” How does this compare to Leigh’s view? (91)
  3. Leigh describes the particular challenge of figuring out who to talk to about her experience with IVF. She notes how circumspect she was around work colleagues, new mothers, friends without children, and friends close with her ex-husband. What does her discretion imply about how society thinks of infertility?
  4. At one point Leigh stops seeing the counselor who works at the clinic, citing a lack of trust. She says, “Should a fox counsel hens in the henhouse?” What do you think she means by this? (107)
  5. Leigh has a romantic but tumultuous relationship with Paul. How does your attitude toward Paul change over the course of the book?
  6. On page 108, Leigh notes, “In the parking spot reserved for Medical Practitioners Only I noticed a Bentley.” Why is this an important observation? (108)
  7. After an initial test result showing high levels of Natural Killer cells, Leigh retakes the test and explains, “The result of my second Natural Killer cell test came back. Both levels—amount and activity—were now normal. I was relieved—and dismayed.” Why is she dismayed? What might the consequences have been if she had not retaken the test? (116)
  8. Ultimately, Paul refuses to let Leigh use his frozen sperm after they divorce. Committed to having a child without him, how does she navigate the desire to have a child with someone she knows/cares for along with the biological necessity of needed sperm to fertilize her eggs?
  9. What is Leigh’s relationship with her parents? Do you see generational differences in terms of their views on IVF?
  10. Avalanche details the monetary cost of treatments. One friend told Leigh that “my sister had to sell her house to buy her kids.” What commentary does the book make on IVF as both a medical and a for-profit industry?
  11. How do you feel Leigh resolves, or does she, her desire for a child?
  12. What has Leigh learned about herself through the IVF journey?

About Julia Leigh

Julia Leigh is the author of The Hunter, a New York Times Notable Book of the Year, and Disquiet, winner of the Encore Award (UK). She lives in Sydney, Australia.

Books by Julia Leigh

  1. Book CoverAvalanche: A Love Story

    An intensely personal narrative of loss, hope, and longing for a child.More