24 Engaging The Lost Girls of Willowbrook Book Club Questions

Are you reading The Lost Girls of Willowbrook by Ellen Marie Wiseman as part of your book club this month and you want to go in armed with some insightful questions? Well, you’ve come to the right place!

We’ve compiled a list of book club questions for The Lost Girls of Willowbrook so you can start an engaging conversation about the novel with your book club members.

Of course, when discussing books at a book club, often organic questions come up based on what people have to say, so use these The Lost Girls of Willowbrook book club questions as a guide to get you started and to inspire the conversation should it be dwindling.

Also to make your life easier, we’ve prepared a list of suggestions for what to read next, so you can offer some suggestions for the next read.

Left it too late to plan your book club meeting? Don’t worry, we have your back…


The Lost Girls of Willowbrook is a novel about an infamous mental institution called Willowbrook State School on Staten Island, New York, which was exposed as a dumping ground for unwanted children in the 70s.

The story follows Sage Winters who lost her twin sister at the age of 10 to pneumonia, and her mother passes in a car crash at 16.

Her stepfather now bares her responsibility of looking after her, but soon the shocking secret of what really happened to Rosemary comes to light – she’s not dead, she’s incarcerated at Willowbrook.

Hellbent on finding her sister, she sets out on a mission to find her in the notorious school.

Spoiler Alert! 

Please note that the questions below contain spoilers of the book.

Generic Book Club Questions for The Lost Girls of Willowbrook

Let’s begin the list with some generic questions to get the ball rolling. These book club questions for The Lost Girls of Willowbrook are designed to encourage every member of your group to say something about the book.

Perhaps you have a shy member of the group or a newbie? These will help give them the confidence to speak up.

  • What did you think about the book? (obvious, but we have to say it).
  • What were your expectations before reading The Lost Girls of Willowbrook?
  • How did the story make you feel?
  • Which was the most interesting scene in the book, in your opinion?
  • Were there any characters that you felt you can relate to in any way?
  • What are the key principles you have learned from the book? What have you taken away from the story?
  • Did you feel this was a slow-burning novel or a real page-turner?
  • Would you recommend this book to others?
  • What do you think the front cover represents?
  • Let’s talk about the ending. Were you shocked?

The Lost Girls of Willowbrook Discussion Questions

Once you’ve gone through the general chit chat, it’s time to open up a deeper and more meaningful discussion. Here are book club discussion questions for The Lost Girls of Willowbrook we recommend you bring up…

  • Though the story is fiction, Willowbrook State School was a real place. How did this novel make you feel about the patients who were mistreated there? Do you think this might have happened in other settings?
  • Would you consider this novel more of a thriller or historical fiction novel?
  • The staff mistook Sage for Rosemary and lock her up. The story goes from a quest for answers to a quest for survival. Did you find the storyline believable?
  • Have you read anything else by Ellen Marie Wiseman? How does this novel compare?
  • Let’s talk about Sage. Can you relate to her in any way? Do you think she’s a likable character?
  • What about Sage’s mother and Alan the stepfather? What are your thoughts about the parents and their choices?
  • How do you think you get out of Willowbrook? What’s the end for these children?

Read more: Miracle Creek Book Club Questions

Educated Book Club Questions for The Lost Girls of Willowbrook

Want to dive deeper into the philosophy and hidden messages of the book? Then you’re going to want to ask some of these educated book club questions for The Lost Girls of Willowbrook.

  • Did the storyline feel too coincidental to you, or were you surprised by each plot twist?
  • The story was told through the eyes of a teenager, what do you think was the significance of Sage being 16? How would the story have changed if she found out about Rosemary in her adult life?
  • How do you think Rosemary felt before her sister turned up?
  • Why do you think Rosemary was put in Willowbrook?
  • Why was Sage lied to about her sister? Why was she told she was dead and not sent to Willowbrook?
  • Why did her mother never mention to the doctors she was a twin?
  • Were there any parts of the book that seemed exaggerated or unbelievable? What scenes had you shaken the most?

Read more: Giver of Stars Book Club Questions

5 Suggestions for What to Read Next

Now you have a list of The Lost Girls of Willowbrook book club questions for your book club meeting, it’s time to plan the next one. Here are some suggestions for books to read next.

If your book club are looking for affordable ways to read more books, you’ll find some of these titles on Kindle Unlimited

1. Daisy Darker – Jeanine Cummins

Daisy Darker was born into a dysfunctional family. With her grandmother’s 80th birthday coming up, the family is forced to come together in her crumbling gothic house on Tidal island.

But when the tide comes in, the family is cut off from the rest of the world for eight hours. What could go wrong? Only some family secrets come out.

To make matters more complicated, Nana is found dead at the stroke of midnight. An hour later, another family member follows…

Trapped on an island with a murderer who seems to be picking off each member one by one, the Darkers must confront their past and present problems before it’s too late.

2. The Lost Apothecary – Sarah Penner

The Lost Apothecary is a suspenseful novel of secrets, vengeance, and sisterhood.

In the depths of eighteenth-century London, a secret apothecary shop caters to an esoteric clientele. 

Rumors abound of a mysterious woman who sells deadly poisons to women in order to protect themselves from their abusive husbands or male partners. However, the apothecary’s fate is in jeopardy when her newest patron, a precocious twelve-year-old, makes a fatal mistake that leads to consequences that continue through the centuries.

Caroline Parcewell, an aspiring historian, spends her tenth wedding anniversary alone in present-day London. She is researching the unsolved apothecary murders that haunted London two hundred years ago when she stumbles upon a clue that leads her to the apothecary.

However, Caroline’s life soon collides with the apothecary in a stunning twist of fate, and not everyone will survive.

3. Lessons in Chemistry – Bonnie Garmus

Elizabeth Zott is a Chemist and not considered your average woman. Set in the early 60s, Elizabeth works with an all-male team at Hastings Research Institute, who take a sexist view on gender roles.

But one man is different. Calvin Evans is a lonely and intelligent Nobel–prize nominated scientist who has fallen in love with Elizabeth’s mind.

But love and science are unpredictable, and Elizabeth ends up a single mother and the star of a beloved cooking show in America, Supper at Six.

Elizabeth’s approach to cooking takes on a scientific approach, which becomes revolutionary. As her following grows, it turns out Elizabeth Zott isn’t just inspiring women to cook, but changing the status quo.  

Read more: The Vanishing Half Book Club Questions

4. The Great Alone – Kristin Hannah

Set in Alaska in 1974, the story follows Ernt Allbright who came home from the Vietnam War a different man. After he loses his job and decides to move his wife and daughter north to live off the grid in America’s last true frontier.

Cora will do anything for her husband, including following him into the unknown. Their teenage daughter, Leni, has little choice but to go along.

In this remote corner of Alaska, the Allbrights find an independent community of strong men and women whose generosity make up for the lack of preparation and resources.

As winter approaches, Ernt’s fragile mental health starts to deteriorate and the perils from outside are nothing compared to what lurks within.

In their small cabin drenched in snow, they live each day with 18 hours of night cover. Soon they are forced to realize, they’re really alone.

5. Haven – Emma Donoghue

Haven is a heartwarming story of adventure and survival from the author of Room. It follows three men who set off from Ireland to seek an island to build a sanctuary.

The party consists of their leader, a priest and scholar Artt, and two monks, Trian and Cormac.

Piled into a small boat, with only faith to guide them, the men set out on a journey of travel and exploration.

The novel is set in the 7th century, and is a tale of following one’s dream, even if the journey is perilous. The three men journey down the river Shannon before drifting out into the Atlantic.

They find a steep, bare island with only birds as inhabitants, and decide to claim it for God. How do they survive this baron land? And how could three men build a monastery?

Final Word on The Lost Girls of Willowbrook Book Club Questions

So there you have it, those were the best book club questions on The Lost Girls of Willowbrook. I hope that these helped you start and drive the conversation at your next meeting.

If you had any interesting questions come up about this book, let us know in the comments! We’d love to hear from you.

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About Louisa

Editor/Founder - Epic Book Society

Louisa is the founder, editor, and head honcho of Epic Book Society. Once a published poet at the age of 7, she aspired to become a journalist, but that career hit a wall so here she is writing about books instead. When she's not writing about books, she's teaching English to primary school kids around the world.

2 thoughts on “24 Engaging The Lost Girls of Willowbrook Book Club Questions”

  1. To further enhance the discussion, I recommend watching the original piece exposing Willowbrook by Geraldo Rivera in the 1970s on YouTube. Its not for the weak of heart bit will provide context to this book. Also there are several other videos dealing with Willowbrook on YouTube.


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