What Doesn't Kill You

A Novel

What Doesn't Kill You

“I really thought I had a handle on life—then it broke off.”

Divorced since her daughter, Amber, was young, forty-something Tee has been “handling her business”—supporting herself after her would-be songwriter husband took off for L.A.—and she’s done all right. But then everything changes. First, she’s outplaced from her longtime job and doesn’t tell anyone. Then she throws her daughter a dream wedding and, after overindulging in champagne, Tee wakes up in bed with the younger best man.

For the first time in twenty- five years, she doesn’t know who she is or what she’s going to do every day. Deep in denial, Tee continues to live her life as if nothing has changed. After a series of financial missteps compound her already shaky situation, she teeters on the edge of bankruptcy. That’s when she decides that it’s time to wake up and face reality.

Beyond “making money,” Tee never really decided what she wanted to do with her life. Then she just stopped thinking about it and invested her hopes in someone else’s dream. Now it’s her chance to invest in herself. Can she step out on faith to follow her own dream?
  • Touchstone | 
  • 320 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781416564218 | 
  • January 2010
List Price $19.99 (price may vary by retailer)
In Stock: Usually ships within 1 business day
Buy from another retailer


Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide includes discussion questions, ideas for enhancing your book club, and a Q&A with authors Virginia DeBerry and Donna Grant. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book. 


Questions for Discussion

1. The first chapter epigraph quotes, “ . . . all you can do is mop up the aftermath, dump it in a giant personal hazmat container and move on.” The topic of resilience is deeply woven into the fabric of Tee’s story. Do you feel that it was her own strong character, the people around her or both that allowed her to pull through the adversity she faced?

2. How did denial facilitate more problems for Tee? She believes that you should “never let them see you sweat” (page 8), and acts accordingly, but that only deepens her debt and her troubles. Is this a common hurdle for people in distress?

3. What role does Olivia play in Tee’s development? Does her idea of destiny eventually become part of Tee’s religion as well? How does Olivia’s parenting style differ from Tee’s?

4. Both of Tee’s important careers—at Markson & Daughter and To a Tee—help her make use of skills (label design and organizing) see more

More Books from this Author

Gotta Keep on Tryin'
Gotta Keep on Tryin'

About the Authors

Virginia DeBerry
Photograph by Bob Gore

Virginia DeBerry

Virginia DeBerry was a successful plus-size model, former Vice President of BB/LW modeling agency and served as editor-in-chief of Maxima magazine before becoming a novelist. DeBerry is a graduate of the State University of New York at Buffalo. She currently resides in central New Jersey.

Donna Grant
Bill Wylie

Donna Grant

Donna Grant spent more than a decade as a model for catalogs and advertisements. Grant has been featured on the pages of Essence, McCalls, Family Circle, and Woman's Day, as well as appeared on Good Morning America, and Live with Regis and Kathy Lee. Grant served as the Managing Editor of Maxima before her writing career. A Brooklyn native, she is a graduate of New York University and still lives in the borough with her husband.