Sorrow is an ideal book club read because it explores the interesting question of why some people follow their dreams and others don’t. Regardless of what each reader brings to the table, this dilemma touches us all in one way or another. In addition to its rich subject matter, DeBartolo’s novel is also delightfully easy to engage with and has a digestible word count!

Joe Harper has talent but no drive. Others believe in him, but he lacks that crucial element – believing in himself. His life is a catalog of missed opportunities. October Harpo is an artist who embraces every aspect of human existence, seizing it and honoring it by unearthing the beauty within, the art. She is passionate and throws herself into her art with intensity and abandon that amplifies Harper’s lack of both. October wants Joe to see himself as she does, to be who he really is. Will he allow himself the life that destiny laid at his feet the moment he walked into October’s studio?

Sorrow has the emotional feel of a lyrical poem disguised as a novel. Its cadence remains fluid and familiar – don’t we all struggle with the issue of following our hearts, of letting self-doubt win out over hope?  There are pieces of Joe and pieces of October in each of us. Author Tiffanie DeBartolo echoes those refrains in Sorrowcreating a work that is full of meaning while also being a pleasure to read.


  1. Does Joe Harper’s lack of self-esteem make him more or less likable?
  2. Why do you think Joe’s best friend Cal is able to make good on his promises to himself?
  3. What does Joe’s love of trees add to the story? What does it tell us about him?
  4. Would Joe have turned out differently if he was brought up in a more supportive atmosphere?
  5. How much negative influence does Joe’s father have on him? Do you believe sometimes a negative role model can spurn a child to choose differently?
  6. Since October can “read” others, why can’t she see that Joe won’t have the courage to stay with her?
  7. Did October’s installations have any impact on you as you read about them? Does art in general? Do you think about it the way that October does?
  8. Can art turn something painful into something meaningful? Can it help you heal and help you grow?
  9. Do you think there are a lot of Joe’s out there – people who have extraordinary talent but never do anything with it? What about the reverse – those who don’t have much talent but pursue their dream relentlessly?
  10. Does fate bring people together?
  11. Do you think Joe and October will stay together? Has Joe really changed or will he go back to his old ways?