Welcome back to the first official Ballymena Book Club. In January we all read Big Little Lies by Laine Moriarty together and now we want to share our discussion questions.
At the start of January we encouraged you to grab the book, a bunch of friends and pick a friendly Ballymena cafe or coffee shop as a venue get stuck into our discussion questions. You can pick and choose whatever questions suit you best
Ballymena Book Club – Big Little Lies discussion
- At the beginning of the novel, Madeline is enraged over Ziggy not being invited to Amabella’s birthday party. Why do you think Madeline becomes so angry about such a seemingly small injustice?
- There is a lot of discussion about women and their looks. On the beach Jane’s mom shows that she has rather poor body image. Jane observes that women over 40 are constantly talking about their age. And Madeline says, “She didn’t want to admit, even to herself, just how much the aging of her face really did genuinely depress her. She wanted to be above such superficial concerns. She wanted to be depressed about the state of the world….” [p. 82] Do you think this obsession with looks is specific to women, particularly women of a certain age? Why or why not?
- When Jane recounts what happened the night she got pregnant, she focuses on what the man said rather than on what he did. Why does Jane feel more violated by two words – fat and ugly—than by the actual assault? Jane seems to think the answer is “Because we live in a beauty-obsessed society where the most important thing a woman can do is make herself attractive to men.” [p. 196] Do you agree?
- The power of secrets is a theme throughout the novel. Jane remembers, “She hadn’t told anyone. She’d swallowed it whole and pretended it meant nothing, and therefore it had come to mean everything.” [p. 220] Do you think this is a universal truth, that the more you keep something secret, the more power it takes on?
- Were you surprised to learn about Bonnie’s history? Were you surprised to discover that all along Max had been seeing what Perry was doing to Celeste?
- What did you make of the interview snippets to the reporter? Do you think the author used them almost like a Greek chorus to make a point?
- At one point in the book, Susi says that, in Australia, one woman dies every week because of domestic violence. In the United States, more than three women are murdered by their husbands or boyfriends every day. Every nine seconds in the United States a woman is assaulted or beaten. Domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women—more than that caused by car accidents, muggings, and rapes combined. Are you surprised by these statistics? Why or why not? Clearly, the author chose Celeste—the picture-perfect mom and/ wife as well as an educated lawyer—to be the victim of domestic violence in order to make a point. Do you think it’s plausible that someone like her would fall victim to abuse such as this?
- Madeline comments that “there were so many levels of evil in the world.” [p. 433] Discuss the implications of this statement in light of the novel and the novel’s different storylines. (Source)
We have loved this book and the big themes that it has addressed. Hopefully it has opened up some interesting discussion. Please let us know if you enjoyed the book and why.
Becuase of the subject matter tackled by the book we have already written an article about the domestic abuse which is portrayed in the book – please read that blog post here. We shared this advice for anyone who is suffering similar circumstances:
Call the 24 Hour Domestic & Sexual Violence Helpline is now live.
Call 0808 802 1414 – open to all women and men affected by domestic & sexual violence.
It could be the most important call that you ever make.