This post contains links to products that I may receive compensation from at no additional cost to you. View my Affiliate Disclosure page here.
Book club questions for True Biz by Sara Novic examines all the key themes in this engaging novel focused on the Deaf community. There will be spoilers so for more context about the story, check out my spoiler-free review first.
I liked this novel overall! I felt I learned so much from it and I’m glad Reese brought a novel like this into the mainstream. While YA is not my genre of choice, I was still engaged with the story overall.
True biz? The students at the River Valley School for the Deaf just want to hook up, pass their history finals, and have politicians, doctors, and their parents stop telling them what to do with their bodies. This revelatory novel plunges readers into the halls of a residential school for the deaf, where they’ll meet Charlie, a rebellious transfer student who’s never met another deaf person before; Austin, the school’s golden boy, whose world is rocked when his baby sister is born hearing; and February, the hearing headmistress, a CODA (child of deaf adult(s)) who is fighting to keep her school open and her marriage intact, but might not be able to do both. As a series of crises both personal and political threaten to unravel each of them, Charlie, Austin, and February find their lives inextricable from one another—and changed forever.
This is a story of sign language and lip-reading, disability and civil rights, isolation and injustice, first love and loss, and, above all, great persistence, daring, and joy. Absorbing and assured, idiosyncratic and relatable, this is an unforgettable journey into the Deaf community and a universal celebration of human connection.
Book Club Questions for True Biz
- If you’re part of the hearing community, how much did you know about the Deaf community and culture prior to reading this novel? What are some key aspects that you learned?
- For those part of the Deaf community, what was your overall impression of how the community was presented in the novel?
- Why was True Biz the right title for this story?
- Out of the three main storylines—Charlie, Austin and February—which one were you most engaged with? Who do you think had the weakest storyline?
- Why do you think Charlie’s parents, especially her mother, were so insistent on the cochlear implant? How would have Charlie’s upbringing been different if she also could have learned ASL?
- February is the child of Deaf adults—why did she decide to work with Deaf students?
- What was behind the marriage issues between her and Mel?
- Austin has it all—until it initially appears his sister is born hearing. What type of impact did this have on Austin and his relationship with his dad?
- When more tests are done, it shows that his sister is hard of hearing and his parents, especially his father, are considering getting her a cochlear implant, which horrifies Austin. Let’s talk about the debate surrounding cochlear implants. Do you think his parents will still go through with getting one for his sister?
- How did Charlie change from when we met her to the end of the novel?
- The story is left open ended in many ways—what do you think happens next for Charlie, Austin and February? Will the school close for good?
- What are some of the key themes you picked up on? Did you highlight any sections of the novel (such as quotes or certain events)?
- Why do you think ASL is not taught more in schools? Do you know ASL or have an interest in learning the language?
Hope you enjoyed book club questions for True Biz! Here are some additional recommendations along with links to book club questions.
The Maid by Nita Prose
One of my favorite books of the year is The Maid by Nita Prose and I highly recommend you check it out soon!
Molly Gray is not like everyone else. She struggles with social skills and misreads the intentions of others. Her gran used to interpret the world for her, codifying it into simple rules that Molly could live by.
Since Gran died a few months ago, twenty-five-year-old Molly has been navigating life’s complexities all by herself. No matter—she throws herself with gusto into her work as a hotel maid. Her unique character, along with her obsessive love of cleaning and proper etiquette, make her an ideal fit for the job. She delights in donning her crisp uniform each morning, stocking her cart with miniature soaps and bottles, and returning guest rooms at the Regency Grand Hotel to a state of perfection.
But Molly’s orderly life is upended the day she enters the suite of the infamous and wealthy Charles Black, only to find it in a state of disarray and Mr. Black himself dead in his bed. Before she knows what’s happening, Molly’s unusual demeanor has the police targeting her as their lead suspect. She quickly finds herself caught in a web of deception, one she has no idea how to untangle. Fortunately for Molly, friends she never knew she had unite with her in a search for clues to what really happened to Mr. Black—but will they be able to find the real killer before it’s too late?
A Clue-like, locked-room mystery and a heartwarming journey of the spirit, The Maid explores what it means to be the same as everyone else and yet entirely different—and reveals that all mysteries can be solved through connection to the human heart.
Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid
For an entertaining tale about siblings, be sure to check out Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid.
Malibu: August 1983. It’s the day of Nina Riva’s annual end-of-summer party, and anticipation is at a fever pitch. Everyone wants to be around the famous Rivas: Nina, the talented surfer and supermodel; brothers Jay and Hud, one a championship surfer, the other a renowned photographer; and their adored baby sister, Kit. Together the siblings are a source of fascination in Malibu and the world over—especially as the offspring of the legendary singer Mick Riva.
The only person not looking forward to the party of the year is Nina herself, who never wanted to be the center of attention, and who has also just been very publicly abandoned by her pro tennis player husband. Oh, and maybe Hud—because it is long past time for him to confess something to the brother from whom he’s been inseparable since birth.
Jay, on the other hand, is counting the minutes until nightfall, when the girl he can’t stop thinking about promised she’ll be there.
And Kit has a couple secrets of her own—including a guest she invited without consulting anyone.
By midnight the party will be completely out of control. By morning, the Riva mansion will have gone up in flames. But before that first spark in the early hours before dawn, the alcohol will flow, the music will play, and the loves and secrets that shaped this family’s generations will all come rising to the surface.
Malibu Rising is a story about one unforgettable night in the life of a family: the night they each have to choose what they will keep from the people who made them . . . and what they will leave behind.