I love book clubs, so I made a handy reading guide with a set of discussion questions for you right here! If you'd like me to visit your book club in person or via Facetime, Skype, etc. please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org so we can arrange something. I am usually only in South Florida or Southern California, with occasional visits to Delaware to see my grandmother, but if you're willing to fly me somewhere, I'll go. I am particularly interested in visiting book club meetings in Tuscany, Paris, Bali, Hawaii, Tahiti, Iceland, basically anywhere in Scandinavia really, and also if there are any book club meetings on cruise ships or at fancy yoga retreats I'd be down for those too. Of course, book clubs that feed me tacos and tell me I'm pretty will take first priority over book clubs that do not serve good food or give effusive compliments.
1. THIS IS NOT MY BEAUTIFUL LIFE begins when the DEA and IRS raid Victoria’s parents’ home and she is nine months pregnant and wearing maternity underwear. What is the worst thing you have ever answered the door wearing? The best?
2. When the Gold family visits Costco to spend their last five thousand dollars, they load up on expensive food like lobster tails and beef tenderloin. What does their choice say about them as people? Do you think they could’ve made better use of that much cash? If you had to blow that much money that fast, what would you buy?
3. When Victoria’s daughter is born, she finds herself unsure of her ability to keep another human being alive. What sorts of things have you killed? If you have children, did this affect your parenting skills at all? If you don’t have kids, just consider yourself lucky and pour yourself another glass of wine while everyone else answers.
4. Victoria writes a lot about food and the connections she makes between food and family. She is also a champion stress eater. First of all, what is the best food at this book club meeting? If there is no food, what is wrong with you people? Who has a book club with no food? Second of all, are you a stress eater too, or are you one of those lucky bitches who loses weight when they’re upset? If so, what is your secret to getting upset enough to stop being hungry because you could turn this into a million dollar diet program? Third, Victoria associates dumplings with her childhood in Delaware. What foods do you associate with your childhood or hometown?
5. Baron Von Bod becomes a reality TV star on a show that most people would never admit to actually watching. Okay, own up. What are your guilty pleasure TV shows? You know you have them. And while we’re at it, don’t you think Victoria deserves her own TV show too? How do you imagine it?
6. Joel offers to pay half of Ashley’s car payment when she catches him with his mistress. Come on, don’t you think he should’ve paid the whole thing? Why do you think he only offered half? If someone gave you money to keep a secret, would you do it? Why or why not?
7. Victoria makes a Vision Board and includes that she wants a book deal. So, do you believe in Vision Boards now? You should totally go make one. What would you put on it? What makes them work or not work? The keyword being work.
8. Victoria’s family lives in a tacky McMansion called Casa dei Sogni, which means House of Dreams, in Italian. Come up with a name for your home and use Google to translate it into another language so it sounds classier. Why do things in other languages sound classier? How do you feel now that you have a house with a name? Don’t lie, you feel fancy.
9. Cecily chooses to “stand by her man” throughout this ordeal. How did this make you feel? Could you relate at all? Does she make any valid points about why she stayed with him or do you think she is just a hopeless codependent codefendent (see what I did there?) with low self-esteem?
10. Baron Von Bod calls Victoria a spoiled brat. In what ways do you agree with him?
11. Sibling rivalry is a big theme in this book. Discuss the dynamic between Victoria and Ashley. Which sister could you relate to more? Which one was prettier? Did you agree with how Ashley handled the situation with Cecily? Was she behaving sensibly and setting healthy boundaries, or do you think she was a little harsh?
12. There are a lot of assholes in this book. Which one was the biggest, and why? Which character did you hate the most? Was there any point in the story where you wanted to strangle anyone? Who was it and why?