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I'm Perfect, You're Doomed

Tales from a Jehovah's Witness Upbringing
By Kyria Abrahams

Reading Group Guide

    I'm Perfect, You're Doomed
    Kyria Abrahams

    Questions and Topics For Discussion

    1. The book begins with a Frederick Perls quote: "Many factors come together to create this specific unique person which is I." Now that you have an understanding of Kyria as a child, can you identify some of the Jehovah's Witness factors that contributed to who she was? Examine her views on finishing high school, getting married, and having a job. What other external factors contributed to her personal development?
    2. What prescriptions do Jehovah's Witnesses give for proper parenting (see page 104)?  Do you agree with the methods described?
    3. Kyria describes her elementary school experience: "Unlike all the other students in the school, I was special. In short, the rest of my class was going to die at Armageddon. I was going to live forever—as long as I refrained from singing the National Anthem or drawing a turkey from the outline of my hand" (page 84).  How do the rules of Jehovah's Witnesses compare with the rules of other religions? Which religions are stricter than others in regard to what must be done to achieve eternal life?
    4. Abrahams humorously says of her early experiences in the Kingdom Hall, "We all knew what was in our thoughts (intense love for Jehovah possibly coupled with a need to pee) and there was no need to cause problems by talking about actual feelings" (page 34).  Does this description relate to Kyria's interactions with her parents while growing up? Why or why not?
    5. Discuss Abrahams’ recollection of swallowing a bottle of pills. Why do you think her parents responded the way they did? Compare with their reactions to Kyria's other decisions, such as dropping out of high school, divorcing Alan, and being disfellowshipped.
    6. Why do you think Kyria married Alan? What were her reasons for wanting a divorce? Do you understand the decisions she made?
    7. Examine the other relationships in the book. How does Kyria's marriage compare with that of her parents? How does she approach her second marriage proposal, this time to Penn? Do these relationships adhere to the rules for being good Jehovah's Witnesses?
    8. "I was overwhelmed with the need to interact with these people. I wanted to be them and I wanted to make out with them, possibly both at the same time." (page 289) This is just one of many emphatic descriptions throughout the book that Abrahams gives when meeting new friends for the first time. Discuss the peers she encounters during each phase of her childhood, looking closely at Sarah, Heather, Judy, and her fellow poetry slammers. Examine the effects, both positive and negative, that each of these relationships has on Kyria.                                                                            
    9. Near the end of the book, Abrahams writes, "It didn't feel wrong to have sex with my friend's boyfriend because I couldn't fathom anything being wrong any more. I'd been told that murder was as wrong as eating birthday cake was as wrong as smoking, as wrong as reading books, as wrong as having sex with your friend's boyfriend. I needed time to grade each of these things on their own merit, to make sense out of the world, one ruined septic system at a time." (page 365) How does this description compare with Abrahams’ sense of morality earlier in the book? At what point does she begin questioning the rules of being a Witness?
    10. Why do you think Kyria's mother and friend Maya both went back to being Jehovah's Witnesses after they were disfellowshipped? Why do you think Kyria never rejoined?
    11. In your opinion, does Abrahams portray her former religion and its members fairly?

About the Author

Kyria Abrahams
Photo Credit: Todd Serencha

Kyria Abrahams

Kyria Abrahams was a regular columnist for Jest Magazine for several years, where she was featured alongside performers and writers from The Daily Show and Chappelle’s Show. As a standup comic, Comedy Central twice selected her as one of ten semi-finalists for the Boston Laugh Riots Competition. She has also been a repeat performer at alternative comedy shows like "Eating It" and "Invite them Up," as well as literary readings like "How to Kick People"--each of them places where the likes of Jon Stewart, Janeane Garafalo, Patton Oswalt, Fred Armisen, and David Cross have appeared.  Raised in Providence, Rhode Island she now lives in Queens, New York.