The Ones Who Matter Most

The Ones Who Matter Most

by Rachael Herron

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From the acclaimed author of Splinters of Light and Pack Up the Moon comes a beautiful novel about two very different women who are about to get a second chance at creating a family...

After her husband dies unexpectedly, Abby Roberts comes across something startling: wedding photographs of him with another woman, along with pictures of a baby boy. Shocked, Abby does something utterly impulsive: She embarks on a journey to discover the family her husband apparently left behind.

Money has always been tight for single mom Fern Reyes, and never tighter than now. But this month, in place of a child-support check, her ex's pretty, privileged wife appears on her doorstep with far too many questions. Unfortunately, her young son is so taken with Abby that Fern doesn’t have the heart to send her away.

What begins as one woman’s search for truth becomes a deep bond forged between the unlikeliest of people, and the discovery that there are many ways to make a family—as long as you take care...


Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780698406582
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 04/05/2016
Sold by: Penguin Group
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 464
Sales rank: 143,724
File size: 854 KB

About the Author

Rachael Herron is the acclaimed author of Splinters of Light and Pack Up the Moon. She received her MFA from Mills College.

Reading Group Guide

Questions for Discussion

1. What role does Kathryn play in Abby’s life? How has she helped shape Abby’s life trajectory?

2. Do you think Abby will be able to carry this pregnancy to full term? What echoes do her past miscarriages present in her current life?

3. “Chosen family” is a theme of The Ones Who Matter Most. What other themes do you see in this novel?

4. How has Abby changed by the end of the novel? Is it for the better? How do her decisions as the book progresses affect this change?

5. Same question for Fern: How has she changed? Is it for the better? Is life pushing her? Is she pushing life back?

6. Fern thinks of herself as stubbornly independent and actively wants Scott to stay out of her and Matty’s life, yet she’s been taking checks from him since he left. Is this a contradiction? Why or why not?

7. Matty learns several skills through the course of his science project. What’s the most important thing he learns? What will serve him the best as he grows up?

8. What do you think Matty will be like at sixteen? At twenty-five? At forty?

9. When Scott left Fern and Matty, his father, Wyatt, chose the ones left behind. Do you think he made the right decision? Why?

10. Estamos completos: “We are complete.” Is there a complete family by the close of this novel? Is this something a family can truly attain, or is it a dream on Fern’s part?

11. Is most of your family related to you by blood or by choice? Of course you wish for health and happiness for your family, but what else do you wish for the ones who matter most to you?

Customer Reviews

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The Ones Who Matter Most 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
When a man dies he leaves two women behind that are each deeply affected. One is jaded and the other one is optimistic. They couldn't be more different yet somehow they find a way past their pain and anger to forge a friendship unlike any you've read about before.
KrittersRamblings More than 1 year ago
Check out the full review at Kritters Ramblings Two women are the focus of the book and when the book begins neither has any clue about the other and soon their lives will be completely intertwined. Abby wants to divorce her husband and when she delivers the news tragedy hits. Fern is a single mom who is barely keeping it together and when Abby enters the picture there may be hope for a better future. There is one aspect of the storyline that I didn't really love, but to avoid spoilers I don't want to say much. Abby has a new love enter and I thought it was a little awkward and for some reason it just didn't work for me. It isn't that she had a new love, but who it is - I think that is all I can say without spoiling part of the plot.
mholden More than 1 year ago
Rachael Herron has the most amazing ability to weave characters and words together to make stories that touch you in such unexpected ways. I get so pulled in to the journey the characters are taking that I somehow forget that I’m not really a part of it. This was the most wonderful story. Abby’s character starts as a victim as does Fern’s character, albeit in very different ways. The way they both grow and change over the course of the book is so hopeful and uplifting. I think that is what I like most about Rachel Herron’s books and this is one of her best. Now I want to know what happened to the characters after the book ends……….
literarymuseVC More than 1 year ago
Abby Roberts is beyond infuriated when she discovers that her husband, Scott, had a vasectomy after she had three miscarriages. After uttering four words to him, he slams into the bathroom when Abby hears a crash and then silence. Ten minutes later, Scott is dead, the victim of a massive heart attack. The feelings that race through Abby’s heart and head in the days that follow defy description. Imagine her shock anew when she finds pictures that reveal Scott was once married to Fern and had a son, Mattie. So she does what very few women would have done; she sets out to Fern’s home. The initial reception is cool and awkward indeed, ending with an invitation to Fern and Mattie to attend Scotts funeral and cremation. Here begins a story fraught with ambivalence, suspicion, anger, neediness, rejection and acceptance. Fern drives a public bus for a living but can barely pay her bills and now without Scott’s child support she’s in a desperate situation. She has overwhelmingly mixed feelings about Abby and surely doesn’t understand why Abby wants to get to know Mattie better. Mattie, however, gradually will warm up to Abby, but Fern is determined that Abby will never have her son’s total loyalty and devotion as much as she does. The essence of this unusual story is the tormented journey both Abby and Fern must experience that is really more about grieving for Scott and the past and learning to trust again. Abby seems a more generous, forgiving character but she also is financially safe enough that she’s not as worn out with fear and apprehension about the future. Both women have been betrayed and still have feelings for Scott which they must work through. Eventually, the bond they forge is unbreakable and both become open to new possibilities with men and their place in the larger work world. Rachel Herron does a superb job of crafting a tense, volatile story with just enough tenderness to keep both women from eternal bitterness, choosing instead to embrace trust. It’s about allowing relationships that normally would never develop to go where they must. Romance, mystery and hope will rule the day after one can let go of the past enough to bloom like those flowers and plants that Abby so naturally grows and nurtures into birth. Very nicely done, Rachel Herron!
CharlotteLynnsReviews More than 1 year ago
The Ones Who Matter Most is a perfect book club book. There is so much I want to discuss here. The characters relationship is interesting. Fern is raising a child on her own and then poof the boy’s father’s new wife appears in their life. Abby, the ex’s new wife, and Matty, the son, start a relationship with Fern’s knowledge. It is a weird triangle that works well for everyone. I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop. There was no way a relationship like that would work, except it did. Their friendship made sense in a weird unique kind of way. The storyline was amazing. I started the book, I read the words as fast as I could, and I just couldn’t stop turning the pages. The Ones Who Matter Most is phenomenal. It is a complicated blended family story. The characters are pushed to make things work for the happiness of a child. The child pulls the adults together and makes them act like adults. Rachael Herron has always written amazing stories and this one is no exception. I definitely recommend checking it out.