What writers do so very much of the time is both simple and simply lonely: We sit by ourselves in a room with only our own stories and characters and joys and frustrations to keep us company. For this reason and many others, it is a great pleasure to get out of that room from time to time and meet people who have read about the lives and events that I have dreamed into existence, and I am thankful for the opportunities to do so. If you would like me to attend your book club discussion–in person if local and schedule permits or via Zoom–please send me an email. I will get back to you just as quickly as I can. In the meantime, thank you for considering my novels for your book club.
Book club discussion questions for THE YOUNG OF OTHER ANIMALS:
1. Did the title, THE YOUNG OF OTHER ANIMALS, prepare you for what the story was about? What does the book’s title mean to you?
2. The novel has a binary structure, alternating between Mayree and Paula. Did you identify more with one point of view or the other? If so, why?
3. In the acknowledgements, the author mentions that this novel was inspired by a real-life attack that she suffered at age 19, in 1989. In it, she talks about the fallibly of her own memory in the years following that event. How does Paula’s memory of her attack affect her in the aftermath?
4. How does the trauma that Mayree experienced at age 16 inform how she interacts with the world, including her marriage to Frank, her friendship with Sissy, and how she parents Paula?
5. Discuss the role of Felicia in the lives of the Baker family and how it compares and contrasts with her own family, especially her nephew, Curtis.
6. What did you think about the interstitial anonymous letters that punctuated the plot? Did they give you insight into the perpetrator’s motives or identity?
7. Throughout the story, the women often assume responsibility for their own misfortunes, blaming themselves for their husbands’ infidelity or emotional absence, their parents’ neglect, or acts of violence or sexual abuse. Do you feel that this phenomenon has evolved in recent history, or does it remain part of the female psyche? Why do you think that is?
8. How did Kelly’s betrayal impact Paula’s experience of her attack? What should a friend have done in Kelly’s position? Do you empathize with Paula’s reaction when Kelly revealed how her actions may have contributed to the events of that fateful night?
9. Michael was clearly a villain in this story, but he was also a victim. What do you think should happen to him?
10. The characters in this book are flawed, some more than others. Do you consider them multi-dimensional or merely “unlikeable” and why?