There’s some bad behavior, questionable life choices and lots of lies in The Favorite Sister by Jessica Knoll. This is an intense and entertaining read that makes you think. The following book club questions will contain spoilers so if you haven’t read the novel yet, check out my preview and review first.
As I read the book, I kept thinking about the likability factor. For instance, in Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, the concept of the ‘cool girl’ became widespread — the hot girl who can hang with the guys. In other words, a likable woman. The likability factor is something every woman experiences. You can’t have too much of an opinion or it will somehow disrupt the fabric of nature. But books like Gone Girl and The Favorite Sister are showing that some women behave very poorly. In fact, some are actively unlikable. You can’t put everyone in the same category just because of their gender.
One of the characters that is full of complication is Stephanie, she’s the show’s only black cast member and is an author of Fifty Shades of Grey type books. She is ruthless, cruel and will do anything to maintain relevancy. But as we learn more of her story, we start to see how some of her behavior was a result of the product of her environment and the expectations that were placed on her since she was a kid. Not that it gives anyone a pass for bad behavior, but it does add complexity to her character.
Now on the other hand, Brett is a pretty likable character. She doesn’t appear to take herself or life too seriously and she’s constantly a comedic relief. Yet, we know Brett is murdered. Knoll leaves tidbits to show there’s lies behind Brett’s comedic veneer. And Brett turns out to be a very dirty player too. Everything about Brett was agenda-driven—even the relationship with her niece. Brett might have the most unreliable narrator of them all in this read.
While this is positioned as a book about sisters, most evidently by sister in the title, I was surprised we only get Kelly’s perspective during her interview and at the end. Although if we knew Kelly’s perspective along with Brett and Stephanie’s, we would have learned Brett’s true nature much quicker. I was interested to learn more about Kelly, it seemed she did everything that was expected of her until she had an unplanned pregnancy. Brett then surpassed her in success and she became relentless in catching up to her.
Let’s get into the questions.
- So the narrative is unique. We have three perspectives, two in the past and one in the present even though there are five women on the show. What did you think of this writing style? Why do you think Knoll limited the perspectives to Brett, Stephanie and Kelly?
- As you read the book, which character did you like the most (if any)? Did that change at the end?
- We slowly learn that each character is lying about something. These women invent lies to make themselves more interesting or they lie to survive.Why do you think they all felt such a need to lie? Which lie do you think was the worst?
- Are you a reality TV show watcher? Which shows? What did you think of the behind the scenes look at making reality TV?
- Goal Diggers originally was supposed to show the bond of self-made successful women but ended up pitting them against each other. Why do you think society always goes to that narrative (women against women)?
- Knoll presents different ideas of feminism and argues that women say they support each other but in the end will backstab one another to get ahead. Do you agree with this? How can women work to change this?
- We know Brett is murdered and that Kelly isn’t innocent but we don’t know how it happened. What were some of your theories to begin with and did it at all align with what actually happened?
- Did you think that the tension between Brett and Stephanie was because they had an affair? What did you think when it was revealed Brett was actually straight?
- Stephanie and Vince also meet their end but what do you think was her ultimate goal there? Was she going to take everyone out if she got the chance?
- Self perception, betrayal and lies are huge themes. What else did you pick up on?
- What’s next for the characters who are still alive? Do you think the truth about what really happened to Brett will ever get out?