This reading group guide for You includes an introduction, 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.
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“[A] beautifully crafted thriller that will give you chills.” (People
magazine) From debut author Caroline Kepnes comes You
, a brilliant and terrifying novel for the social media age. When a beautiful, aspiring writer strides into the East Village bookstore where Joe Goldberg works, he does what anyone would do: he Googles the name on her credit card.
There is only one Guinevere Beck in New York City. She has a public Facebook account and Tweets incessantly, telling Joe everything he needs to know: she is simply Beck to her friends, she went to Brown University, she lives on Bank Street, and she’ll be at a bar in Brooklyn tonight—the perfect place for a “chance” meeting.
As Joe invisibly and obsessively takes control of Beck’s life, he orchestrates a series of events to ensure Beck finds herself in his waiting arms. Moving from stalker to boyfriend, Joe transforms himself into Beck’s perfect man, all while quietly removing the obstacles that stand in their way—even if it means murder.
A terrifying exploration of how vulnerable we all are to stalking and manipulation and a compulsively readable page-turner, debut author Caroline Kepnes delivers a razor-sharp novel for our hyperconnected digital age. Topics & Questions for Discussion
1. Discuss the structure of You
. What’s the effect of hearing about Beck from Joe’s point of view? As you get to know Joe better, do you trust his narration? Why or why not?
2. Before Caroline Kepnes wrote You
, she worked as a writer on several television series, including The Secret Life of the American Teenager
and Seventh Heaven
. How do you think Kepnes’s previous work influenced her writing? Did any of the scenes in You
strike you as particularly cinematic? Which ones and why? Who would you cast in the roles of Beck and Joe?
“A deeply dark yet mesmerizing first novel of two people caught in a romantic tangle with an ever-tightening knot.” Discuss Beck and Joe’s relationship. What do you think they each saw in each other?
4. Of Benji, Chana says, “ You can buy him all the books in the world and he’s still gonna be Benji
.” (p. 33) What does Chana mean by this statement? Did you think that Benji was a good friend to Beck? Explain your answer.
5. When Joe meets Beck he’s instantly smitten, not least because of her book choices. What books is Beck purchasing, and what does Joe think these selections say about her? What were your initial impressions of Beck? Did your opinion of her change? If so, why?
6. Joe is continuously self-conscious about his educational and personal background. How, if at all, does his lack of a college degree affect his narrative voice?
7. Beck tells her friend Peach that she loves the movie Magnolia
. Peach tells her that the movie is flawed. When Joe attempts to bond with Beck over their shared love of the movie, she takes Peach’s position. Is Beck using her opinion to gain power or is she just young and figuring herself out?
8. When Joe escorts Beck to IKEA, he is disgruntled that it is not like it is in the movie (500) Days of Summer
. This is one of several instances where Joe is upset by the disparities between real life and movies. Were there movies you wanted to see to enhance your reading experience of this book? And do you relate to Joe’s frustration at all?
9. Joe is devastated when he realizes that Beck was not reading The Da Vinci Code
along with him. Discuss reading as a shared experience. Do you prefer to read alone or to share your progress on Goodreads?
10. In Karen Minty, Joe finds someone who is fully available. But she is not his dream girl. Do you think Joe would have been better off trying to make it work with Karen Minty?
11. Joe is frustrated that Beck can’t make it through an intimate date without tweeting about it. Joe monitors Beck through her online activity, but he does not participate in any of it. Both are extreme reactions to our increasingly connected lifestyle. How do you find balance in your own life?
12. Joe thinks of murder as an act of compassion, euthanasia for unhappy people. Joe interacts with the police on two separate occasions, but he is never arrested or charged. How does it feel to read a book with so much crime and so little punishment administered by the police?
13. Early readers and reviewers have said that reading You
changes the way they think about talking to strangers and sharing information online. Did you change your passwords when you finished? Do you feel more wary of strangers, online or off?
14. In the end, Joe says that some people are destined to read a book in bed with a loved one and others are destined to be alone. Do you think this is true?
15. Joe feels that Benji is a better person because of his time in the cage. Throughout the book, Joe speaks well of his own time imprisoned in that cage. In the movie Ruthless People
, Bette Midler’s character is kidnapped and she emerges as a stronger person. Discuss incarceration in storytelling. Did you ever hope that Joe would let Benji or Beck go?
16. How is New York a character in the book? Do you think it would be harder for Joe to follow Beck in a smaller town?
17. When you finished reading, did you hope that Joe might get away with murder and find love? Or do you like to think that somehow, someway, he will be held responsible for his actions? Enhance Your Book Club
1. To learn more about You
and author Caroline Kepnes, read book reviews, see what others are saying on social media, and visit the official book site at http://whosreadingyou.com.
2. Read interviews with Caroline Kepnes on Salon (http://www.salon.com/2014/09/29/the_dark_side_of_twitter_a_digital_age_tale_of_brooklyn_hipsters_gone_mad/), BoloBooks.com (http://bolobooks.com/2014/09/caroline-kepnes-the-bolo-books-interview/), Time Out Australia
(http://www.au.timeout.com/sydney/timein/features/13697/you-by-caroline-kepnes), and LiteraryGossip.com (http://literarygossip.com/?p=14605).
3. Watch films featuring stalkers, such as The Bodyguard
, Fatal Attraction
, and Vanilla Sky
. Do the stalkers featured in the movies have anything in common with Joe? Discuss their similarities and differences.