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The Last House Guest is the latest thriller by Megan Miranda, author of All the Missing Girls. The book tells the story of Avery, a girl struggling to understand the death of her best friend, Sadie. The police determined her death was suicide, but Avery isn’t convinced. Once she starts digging, she makes surprising discoveries about her friend, her town, and even her own past.
Review: Plot, Pros and Cons
The Last House Guest takes place in Littleport, a small coastal town in Maine, where you’re either a year-round local or a wealthy out-of-towner who visits for the summer.
The main character and narrator, Avery, falls into the first category. She grew up in Littleport, but her upbringing was wrought with difficulty due to the passing of her parents and grandmother. Avery’s best friend Sadie falls into the other category — she’s the daughter of the Lomans, a wealthy family that owns a lot of property in town. Despite their different backgrounds, the girls form a close bond. Without any other family, Avery even lives in the Loman family guest house and works for their property management company.
The story switches back and forth between the summer of 2017, the time of Sadie’s death, and summer of 2018, when Avery is attempting to discover the truth about what happened to her.
During the summer of 2018, the Lomans have returned to Littleport and a memorial is set to be dedicated in Sadie’s honor. With all the renewed attention on Sadie’s passing and some suspicious activity around the family’s properties, Avery begins to question what really happened that night.
As Avery begins to dig into the events surrounding Sadie’s death, she unearths more than she thought. Tensions rise between the town locals and summer visitors, while the secrets of the past find their way into the present.
The Last House Guest is full of plot twists and turns. It’s an addictive novel that will keep you turning pages until its conclusion. With all the secrets and local drama that comes to light throughout the story, you’ll also find yourself with plenty of opinions to share.
Here we have some discussion topics and questions for your book club. They’re not too specific, so as not to spoil any of the book for those who may not have finished it yet.
- An important aspect of the book is life in a small town. Avery lives in a place where everyone knows her past — her family history, her personal struggles, her romantic life, and so on. Do you have any experience living in a small town like this? What is it like? What are the pros and cons of living in a town where everybody knows everybody?
- Not only is Littleport a small town, but it’s also a popular summer tourist destination. This causes tension between the year-round locals and the typically wealthy summer visitors. Due to her relationship with the Lomans, Avery finds herself caught between these two worlds. How does being in this position affect her? How do others in town deal with this tension between the locals and visitors? How is this significant to the story?
- A topic that’s often addressed in the book is who to trust, or rather, who not to trust. Avery questions whether she can still trust her old friends from town, Luce refers to the Lomans as liars, and who is telling the truth is constantly in question. How does this book call trustworthiness into question? How do you determine who to trust?
- The nature of Avery and Sadie’s relationship is often brought up in the book. At first it seems they were simply close friends. But as the story progresses, questions arise. Avery even tells us, “I believe that a person can become possessed by someone else — at least in part. That one life can slip inside another, giving it its shape. In this way, I could judge Sadie’s reaction before it occurred, picture an expression the second before she shared it.” What do you think of their relationship? Were they really just close friends? Were they too close? Was the friendship one-sided? Did they really meet by chance, or did Sadie seek out Avery? How does their relationship affect the investigation and the story as a whole?
- A theme throughout the book is the nature of extremes in this small northern town. Avery says, “In Littleport, we had become addicted to the extremes. No matter where you found yourself, you adapted to the highs or you adapted to the lows. Everything was temporary, and so was your place within it… It was always there, in the force of the sea and the rise of the mountains. In the crowded chaos of summer and the barren loneliness of winter… Everything marked a passage of time and another chance for you within it.” What role do the changing seasons have on the town? How do all these extremes affect the town and its people? What is the influence on Avery?
- Another idea Avery often returns to is the significance of being bold and taking risks. She says things like “you had to take great risks for great rewards,” and even that last line of the novel reads, “But Littleport has always been the type of place that favors the bold.” What role do these ideas play in the story? Do you agree with these concepts of risk taking? Why or why not?
- A big part of the story is family secrets. Discuss the secrets of Avery’s and Sadie’s families and their impact on the story. How would the story have been different if these secrets hadn’t been kept? What motivated those involed to keep their secrets? What sacrifices were made in order to keep these secrets unknown?
- What is your opinion of the ending? What do you think happens next? If you were in Avery’s position, what would you do?
Overall, The Last House Guest is an absorbing thriller full of twists and turns. Plus, with all its family drama and small town secrets, there’s plenty to discuss, making it a great option for your book club.
Have you read The Last House Guest? What did you think of it? Let me know in the comments!
Happy reading! Cheers!