New York City -- are you ready for the Divine Divas? Because these teenage gospel music sensations are ready for you!
Veronique wants to be a star just as much as her fellow Divas do, but there's more to it than just fame for her. Unlike her middle-class friends at Holy Cross Prep, Veronique is there on scholarship, and if she wins a recording contract, she can move her mother and brothers out of their crummy apartment.
But Veronique has another dream that's hers alone. She longs to meet her dad, who disappeared to New York when she was just a baby. Could going to the Big A with the other Divas be Veronique's big chance to find him? Veronique knows she'll have to do some legwork on her own, though, so she turns to the internet for help. While it seems like a miracle when she gets a response, her friends aren't so sure. Is Veronique putting herself in danger, just when the Divas are on the brink of really making it big? And will her faith and her friends be enough to keep her safe?
This reading group guide for VERONIQUE by Victoria Christopher Murray includes discussion questions and ideas for enhancing your book club. 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.
1. Even though she doesn’t even remember him, Veronique misses her father desperately. What does he represent to her? What do you think she’s really yearning for when she dreams of finding him?
2. Veronique frequently feels that the Divas wouldn’t hang out with her if they knew what her life was really like. Compare and contrast Vee’s “ghetto-normal” life with the lives of the other Divas. Do you think her feelings are based on reality or are they self-imposed? Give examples from the novel to support your opinion.
3. If you’ve read the previous two novels in this series, how do you think the Divas have been changed by their experiences? In what ways do you see them responding differently to situations?
4. What does Big Mama mean when she tells Veronique that she has to “break the curse” on page 13? What other patterns do the characters struggle with in this novel, and how do they break out of them?
5. Why does Veronique feel that her mother doesn’t really love her the way she hopes her father will? Do you think she’s being fair to her mother? Why or why not?
6. Veronique and Diamond are thrilled when Mrs. Silver first contacts them with an offer to help Vee find her father. But despite her excitement, Vee also knows that she will get into trouble if anyone finds out what she’s up to. What is it that keeps Vee from telling anyone about her plan? Are secrets ever okay to keep? Which should you tell, and how do you know who to tell?
7. What clues are there that Abigail Silver is interested in more than just helping Veronique find her father? Despite her insistence that she can “spot a fake a mile away” (page 66), why doesn’t Vee pick up on these clues?
8. Similarly, there are other moments throughout this novel where Veronique doesn’t see the obvious. Identify these situations and explain why her “street smarts” fail her in these instances.
9. Veronique, Aaliyah, and India all discuss music that is degrading to women, arguing that “Black people need to listen to and think about what they’re singing, rather than just going along because they like the beat.” (page 96). Do you agree or disagree? Explain your opinion.
10. Big Mama tells Vee that she should count her blessings because she has a good life and opportunities that other girls in the neighborhood don’t have. Similarly, Pastor Ford advises Vee to “focus on the blessings, not the burdens” (page 233). What does this really mean?
11. Like most teenagers, the Divas are anxious to prove how savvy they are now that they’re turning sixteen and are officially young adults. What safety rules does Veronique violate in her haste to finally find and meet her father? Identify which other characters in the novel ignore safety rules and other warning signs, and discuss the motivations that cloud their vision. Using examples from the novel, explain how misplaced confidence can interfere with good judgment.
12. What do you think the author will write about in the next and final book in the Divas series? What clues are hiding in this novel?
Enhance Your Book Club
1. Veronique often feels depressed about her life, especially when she compares her family and living situation to the lives of the other Divas. But Big Mama and Pastor Ford remind her to focus on the blessings in her life, rather than the burdens, so she can really see how much she has to be grateful for. Try making a list of the blessings in your life and see how it makes you feel. Practice this exercise any time you feel down about something, or even every morning as a way to set your frame of mind for the day. Share your experiences with your Book Club at your next meeting.
2. The Divas often learn the hard way that they may be young adults, but that doesn’t mean they can handle everything by themselves. Sometimes they need their parents, and Pastor Ford reminds them constantly that they can and should turn to God, too. Share a story with your Book Club about a time when you thought you could handle something big on your own, and what made you finally realize that you couldn’t. When do you turn to God for help? Do you pray on a regular basis? Why or why not?
3. Take some time to visit and browse the official Divas websites at www.thedivinedivas.com and www.myspace.com/divinedivaseries_2008. You can also read the author’s blog at www.myspace.com/victoriachristophermurray. Come to your next Book Club meeting prepared to discuss how the internet allows authors to bring the world of their novels to life, and how this author’s personal thoughts have or haven’t affected your experience reading her novels.
Victoria Christopher Murray is the author of more than twenty novels including: Envy;Lust;The Ex Files; Lady Jasmine; The Deal, the Dance, and the Devil; and Stand Your Ground, which was named a Library Journal Best Book of the Year. Winner of the African American Literary Award for Fiction and Author of the Year (Female), Murray is also a two-time NAACP Image Award Nominee for Outstanding Fiction. She splits her time between Los Angeles and Washington, DC. Visit her website at VictoriaChristopherMurray.com.