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YA Book Club: Paper Towns

YA Book Club

November 2011

Discussion Questions

• Describe Q’s best friends. Where do they fit into the caste system of Winter Park High? If you had to choose one of these characters as your best friend who would you pick? Why?

• How does Quentin struggle at times with his friendship with Ben? How does Q learn to accept Ben for who he is? How does this relate to Q’s changing understanding of Margo?

• Do you think Margo wants to be found? Do you think Margo wants to be
found by Q?

• Why does Quentin begin to believe that Margo may have committed
suicide? What clues make this seem like a viable solution to the mystery
of her whereabouts?

• Describe Q’s tour of the various abandoned subdivisions he visits on his
quest to find Margo. How are they different? How might these differences
parallel the evolution of Q’s search?

• Discuss the road trip to find Margo. What are the most important events
along the way? How does this adventure mirror the one Margo and Quentin
had in the beginning of the book? Compare and contrast the two.

• Discuss the scene where Q finally finds Margo. How does her reaction to
seeing her friends make you feel? Do you believe that she didn’t want Q to
come after her?

• Why do you think Q makes the decision he does at the end of the book?
Do you agree with his decision to turn down Margo’s invitation?

• The definition of a “paper town” changes many times in the book. Describe
the evolution of its meaning. How does it relate to the mystery? To the
themes of the book?

• With which character’s version of the “real” Margo do you most agree?

• Do you think that Margo meant to give her friends a false impression of
her true self?

• Q’s parents describe people as “mirrors” and “windows” (page 199). What
does this mean? Do you agree with this metaphor?

• Q comes to this conclusion (p. 199): “Margo was not a miracle. She was
not an adventure. She was not a fine and precious thing. She was a girl.”

• The book is divided into three sections: The Strings; The Grass; and The
Vessel. What is the connection between the sections/titles and the content
within those sections? How do the sections/titles connect to the themes of
the book?

• At different times, both Margo and Q use lines of poetry without
considering the context of the whole poem. How do you think this changes
the meaning?

• Q’s interpretation and understanding of Walt Whitman’s “Song of Myself”
changes as the mystery progresses. What are the different phases of his
understanding? Do you agree with his final conclusion about the poem’s

• Another common term for a “paper town” is a “copyright trap.” Can you
find examples of others? What are some other terms for copyright traps?

• Discuss the last line of the book, how it relates to the rest of the story, and
what it ultimately says about Margo and Q’s relationship.

• Paper Towns has two different covers. What does this symbolize to you? What
does each version say about Margo? Do you think either one is “correct”?

John Green Reads the Prologue and Answers Questions

Songs about Paper Towns