The prologue that begins Message in a Bottle reveals how the bottle traveled from North Carolina to Cape Cod. It also recounts the journeys of other messages, including one from a shipwrecked sailor that washed up after 150 years in the same village where he had been born. In light of this information, do you think that coincidence or fate led Theresa Osborne to find the bottle?
Why are Garrett’s messages to Catherine so compelling? What makes Theresa react so powerfully?
Garrett’s boat is named Happenstance. What does the name mean and do you think it applies to the chain of events in the story?
Before her death, Catherine makes Garrett promise that he’ll find someone else if she dies before him. His own father says, “You’ve got to let go.” Why can’t he?
Catherine’s death is a tragedy and raises the age-old question: why do bad things happen to good people? Do you have an answer?
Theresa leaves her jacket on Happenstance. Do you think she did it deliberately? Garrett thinks he is being manipulated by her when she asks about “the worst thing you’ve ever done.” He feels the same way when he finds out she found the bottle and didn’t tell him. Is Theresa manipulative? If so, do Theresa’s actions make you trust her less?
Do you think Garrett idealized his relationship with Catherine or was it really as wonderful as he remembers?
Having a long-distance relationship is a problem for Theresa and Garrett as it is for many couples. How do you think couples should resolve the issue? How do you think Theresa and Garrett should have dealt with it?
Couples today face different challenges than those of former generations. What obstacles to love existed for your parents’ or your grandparents’ generation and how do they differ from those encountered by couples today?
Discuss Theresa’s relationship with her son. Do you think she’s doing a good job raising him? Do you envision any difficulties ahead for either of them?
We hear a lot about dreams in this book. What is the significance of these dreams and what do they reveal? Have you ever had dreams that seem to carry such symbolic meaning in your own life?
Garrett says: “He had never questioned whether he and Catherine were a team.” How important is teamwork in a marriage? What, besides distance, is wrong with Theresa and Garrett’s relationship?
Were you surprised by Garrett’s actions toward the end of the book? Do you view them as totally reckless, or do you understand why he put himself in such danger? What does this say about Garrett?
Was the fact that Theresa was able to find evidence of three letters plausible? Why or why not?
How did you react to the ending of the book? Could the book have ended any other way?
Did you see the movie version of Message in a Bottle? If so, do you think it was true to the novel?