If you’re looking for an emotional, wholesome read that will make you smile and warm your heart, Remarkably Bright Creatures by Shelby Van Pelt is a great choice! It’s a perfect book club book that’s easy to read, but still has depth to it. Below, I’m sharing a synopsis, character list, and book club discussion questions for Remarkably Bright Creatures!
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What is Remarkably Bright Creatures about?
After her husband dies, an elderly woman begins working the night shift at her local aquarium.
There, she befriends a giant Pacific octopus – who, surprisingly, might hold the key to what happened to her son when he vanished thirty years ago.
Meanwhile, in California, a young man feels adrift in his life after getting fired from another job. His girlfriend kicks him out, and he decides it’s time to finally track down the father he never knew.
Genre: Contemporary Fiction/Magical Realism
I really enjoyed this heartwarming read. It delves into themes surrounding grief, aging, family, friendship, and more.
This book was nominated for the Audie Audiobook of the Year Award, and was also nominated for the Goodreads Choice Award in two categories (Best Fiction and Best Debut Novel).
It was also chosen for multiple celebrity book clubs, including Read With Jenna‘s book club.
Publication date: May 3rd, 2022
Need some help keeping the characters straight? Here’s a list of the main characters in Remarkably Bright Creatures, plus relevant side characters:
(Note: I’ve tried to keep this as spoiler-free as possible, but there may be some minor spoilers if you haven’t read the book yet).
- Marcellus: An aging giant Pacific octopus that’s nearing the end of his life. He resides in a tank at the Sowell Bay Aquarium.
- Tova Sullivan: An elderly widow who works at the Sowell Bay Aquarium as a janitor/caretaker.
- Cameron Cassmore: A young man who grew up in California, raised by his aunt. He travels to Washington state searching for the father he never knew.
- Will Sullivan: Tova’s husband, who passed away.
- Erik Sullivan: Tova’s son, who went missing thirty years ago.
- Lars Lindgren: Tova’s estranged older brother.
- Terry: A marine biologist and the director of Sowell Bay Aquarium. Tova’s boss.
- The “Knit-Wits”: Tova’s group of friends (includes Mary Ann Minetti, Janice Kim, and Barb Vanderhoof).
- Ethan Mack: Owner of the grocery store in Sowell Bay.
- Jeanne: Cameron’s aunt, who raised him. Sister to Cameron’s mother, Daphne.
- Simon Brinks: A real estate tycoon.
- Avery: Owner of the paddle shop in Sowell Bay.
Book Club Discussion Questions for Remarkably Bright Creatures
Below, I’ve put together a list of book club questions to help fuel your book discussion.
Of course, these are just a starting point to get the conversation going. Feel free to use/edit them however you like!
- Had you heard anything about this book before your book club chose to read it?
- Which main themes are present in this story? Which ones resonated with you the most?
- Which character did you relate to the most: Tova, Cameron, Marcellus, or someone else?
- What do you think having Marcellus’ POV (the giant octopus) added to the story?
- If this book was adapted into a movie or show, who would you cast to play Tova and Cameron (or any other characters you liked)?
- Did you feel that the coastal Pacific Northwest setting enhanced the story? How?
- What did you love most about this story? What about least?
- How did you feel about how the story ended? Would you change anything?
- Which emotions did you feel most strongly while reading this book? Did you laugh or cry at all?
- What would you rate this book? Would you recommend it to a friend?
I hope these book club questions help spark some interesting discussions!
Have you read this book (with or without your book club)? What were your thoughts?