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Last Updated on July 29, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 337

1. Peck's presentation of the music of Connie Carlson's era is not fiction; songs and musicians mentioned are real. As Shep the pianist sees it, Connie's desire to be only a part of the orchestra rather than having the orchestra as background for the voice is what sets Connie apart from other singers. Listen to some of the vocals from the late 1930s and 1940s and explain the styles of Big Band singers and what Shep might mean by his observation. Some helpful jazz histories are Andre Hodeir's Jazz: Its Evolution and Essence (1956) and Marshall Stearns's The Story of Jazz (1956).

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2. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross's On Death and Dying (1969) generated much discussion about our emotional responses to death. Read the book and analyze Connie's behavior to determine her responses to death.

3. Drinking has caused Shep's marriage and career to fail. Connie provides Shep with opportunities to recover, but then she has him replaced as her pianist. How should relations and friends deal with an alcoholic? Read some studies of alcoholism and talk with some people in Alcoholics Anonymous. Remember not to use any names in your study to protect your sources.

4. Mrs. Wingate is a child of divorced parents, and she herself is divorced. How has she been scarred by the experience, and how have her children been scarred? What, if anything, could Connie have done to help her daughter. Is there a way to divorce without hurting children?

5. Peck has estimated that he spends a quarter of his time on a novel talking to students, their teachers, and sometimes their parents to find out about his audience. Read one or two other novels by Peck and discuss the degree of his success in his portraits of young people.

6. Read Norman Friedman's "Point of View: The Development of a Critical Concept" in PMLA (1956) or The Theory of the Novel, edited by Philip Stevick (1967) and discuss Peck's handling of first-person narration in Those Summer Girls I Never Met. What are the advantages and disadvantages of this angle of perception in Peck's novel?

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