Book of the month

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Discussion Guide

Stage Seven

By Ruth F. Stevens

Barbara Gordon is self-reliant, settled in her role as a divorced mom, and brilliant at managing her life with lists and spreadsheets. Lately, though, her precious control is slipping from her grasp. Her mother’s dementia is worsening, her sister constantly fights her about Ma’s care, and her teenage daughter has entered the college application fray. Barbara could use a shoulder to lean on, but after fifteen years of romantic exile, she’s afraid to take a chance.


When Barbara meets Jack, an older man whose wife is a late-stage Alzheimer’s patient at the same facility as her mother, she’s attracted to his good nature. She has the power to help Jack reclaim his former happiness, and he has the power to help her be more fulfilled—but only if she can learn to trust Jack…and herself. 

Funny, sad, and heartwarming, Stage Seven is about two people caught between love and duty, and the risks we take when we commit our hearts to family, friends, and lovers alike.


This discussion guide and book of the month was shared and sponsored in partnership with Dartfrog Books.

Discussion Questions

Use these discussion questions to guide your next book club meeting.

Stage Seven is largely a story about love. What are the different forms of love depicted in the novel? Which of the characters are most transformed by love in the course of the story?

Have you had personal experience supporting friends or family members with Alzheimer’s disease? What, if anything, did you learn about the disease from this book that you didn’t previously know?

Barbara and Vicky are sisters with very different personality types. Did you relate more to either one of these two characters? Are you more of a Barbara or a Vicky, and how so?

“A romance with emotional maturity and true connection, delightful and touching.” -Abbi Waxman, USA Today best-selling author


“A compassionate and moving novel about the lives we are living now. (Stevens) reveals the ways that Alzheimer’s challenges and changes who we are and how we love.” -Marita Golden, author, The Wide Circumference of Love, an NPR Best Book of 2017


“If you’re looking for humor, love, and the strength of spirit to face heartbreaking realities head on, Stage Seven may just be the elixir.” -Daniel Kenner, author of Room For Grace

“Stevens’ captivating story of Barbara’s roller coaster of desire, self-doubt, selflessness, envelope-pushing risk-taking, loyalty, and standing in her truth make this book a great read I enjoyed.” -Dan Gasby, co-author with B. Smith, Before I Forget: Love, Hope, Help, and Acceptance in Our Fight Against Alzheimer’s