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Reading Group Guide

Discussion Questions

If I Die Tonight

1. There are many parents in IF I DIE TONIGHT: Jackie, Bill, Helen, Pearl's father Milton and her Aunt Ruth, Ryan Grant's parents, Sheila and Chris Miller... How does each deal with the challenges involved with raising their children, and how would your assess their ability as parents?

2. Is it more difficult to raise a child who is an outcast? Do you empathize with Jackie in her struggle to raise Wade?

3. How do you feel about the role social media plays in the book? Do you see its impact as entirely negative, or are there good aspects to it as well?

4. There is a lot of talk about how social media affects kids. But as the first chapter's description of Jackie's Facebook usage shows, grown-ups use it just as much. How has social media changed your life and the way you perceive the lives of others?

5. The book is told through four different points of view (with one more at the end). Who did you relate to the most and why?

6. How does fame, the pursuit of it (and the avoidance of it) play a role in the book? (Thinking specifically here of Aimee En, but also the idea of social media fame/infamy, as experienced by Liam/Wade).

7. In the book, how does social media distort people's perception of facts?

8. How did you feel about the way things ended for Pearl and Jackie specifically? Do either or both of them have an improved understanding? What do you think will happen to them both in the future?

9. What role does the small-town setting play in the book? Do you think Wade would have been condemned as quickly if it were to take place in a city?

10. What challenges does Jackie encounter as a single mother raising two teenage boys? How does she cope with those challenges?

11. How does raising teenagers today differ from raising them 20 years ago, and how is that shown in the book?

12. There is a lot of cruelty in the book via social media (Wade's suicide note on Facebook gets more than a thousand likes). But it is also a place where people are able to express their grief over Liam. Do you feel that social media numbs our senses or makes us more expressive?

If I Die Tonight
by Alison Gaylin