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Before she became a glamorous fashion designer, Ellie de Florent-Stinson was a trailer-park teen about to turn sixteen. But a night of birthday celebration doesn’t go exactly as planned and descends into a night she’ll never be able to forget.
Now, on the cusp of her fortieth birthday, it appears Ellie has everything she ever wanted: a handsome husband; an accomplished, college-age stepdaughter; a beautiful ten-year-old girl; adorable and rambunctious six-year-old twin boys; lush, well-appointed homes in Los Angeles, Park City, and Palm Springs; a thriving career; and a dazzling circle of friends.
Except everything is not quite as perfect as it looks on the outside—Ellie is keeping many secrets. And hiding those skeletons has a cost, and it all comes to a head the night of her fabulous birthday party in the desert—where everyone who matters in her life shows up, invited or not. Old and new friends and frenemies, stepdaughters and business partners, ex-wives and ex-husbands congregate, and the glittering facade of Ellie’s life begins to crumble.
Book Club Questions for The Birthday Girl
- Melissa de La Cruz is the author of 50 other novels – have you read any of her other novels prior to this one?
- What was your initial impressions of Ellie? Did that change at all as the book went on? Let’s discuss some of the key differences from Mish (Ellie) as a teenager from Ellie as an adult.
- Let’s talk the significance of Mish changing her name to Ellie. Toward the end, Ellie remarks: names reflected where you were in life, marked the people who knew you at certain phases. Do you agree with this?
- What did you think about Mish’s relationship with Leo? Were they good friends to each other? Why or why not? Was the jealousy a given between the two of them because of their similar situations?
- Why do you think the story was told from Leo’s point of view in the past and Ellie’s in the present? Why was it important to present Leo’s perspective?
- Why does it seem like Ellie is never satisfied in the present? What are the real reasons why she threw this over the top birthday party? Why do you think she invited people from her past?
- What did you think about the relationship between Ellie and her husband?
- Were you shocked about the reveal of Mish’s father assaulting Leo? What about with Leo’s murder? Let’s discuss the crazy climax. It seemed hinted that they shared the same father – did you catch that?
- With finally addressing her past, do you think Ellie can move on? What’s next for her and her family?
What to Read Next
If you enjoyed book club questions for The Birthday Girl – here are some other domestic suspense novels that will make you think!
The Two Lila Bennetts by Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke is a wild ride.
Lila Bennett’s bad choices have finally caught up with her. And one of those decisions has split her life in two. Literally.
In one life, she’s taken hostage by someone who appears to be a stranger but knows too much. As she’s trapped in a concrete cell, her kidnapper forces her to face what she’s done or be killed. In an alternate life, she eludes her captor but is hunted by someone who is dismantling her happiness, exposing one secret at a time.
Lila’s decorated career as a criminal defense attorney, her marriage, and her life are on the line. She must make a list of those she’s wronged—both in and out of the courtroom—to determine who is out to get her before it’s too late. But even if she can pinpoint her assailant, will she survive? And if she does, which parts of her life are worth saving, and which parts must die? Because one thing’s for certain—life as Lila Bennett knew it is over.
The Night Before by Wendy Walker follows two sisters uncovering long-buried secrets when an internet date spirals out of control.
Laura Lochner has never been lucky in love. She falls too hard and too fast, always choosing the wrong men. Devastated by the end of her last relationship, she fled her Wall Street job and New York City apartment for her sister’s home in the Connecticut suburb where they both grew up. Though still haunted by the tragedy that’s defined her entire life, Laura is determined to take one more chance on love with a man she’s met on an Internet dating site.
Rosie Ferro has spent most of her life worrying about her troubled sister. Fearless but fragile, Laura has always walked an emotional tightrope, and Rosie has always been there to catch her. Laura’s return, under mysterious circumstances, has cast a shadow over Rosie’s peaceful life with her husband and young son – a shadow that grows darker as Laura leaves the house for her blind date.
When Laura does not return home the following morning, Rosie fears the worst. She’s not responding to calls or texts, and she’s left no information about the man she planned to meet. As Rosie begins a desperate search to find her sister, she is not just worried about what this man might have done to Laura. She’s worried about what Laura may have done to him…