Book club questions for We Were Never Here by Andrea Bartz takes a closer look at this novel about a complex friendship. There will be spoilers so for more context about the book, check out my spoiler-free review first.
I really enjoyed We Were Never Here! Great setting with an engaging story that keeps you guessing. Andrea’s characters never feel like a stereotype and there are many layers to uncover.
Sometimes when I read these types of stories, I try to solve the ‘mystery’ behind it all. But what’s interesting with this one is we know exactly what happened—Kristen killed two different backpackers in an act of protecting Andrea and also self-defense. But as we know, it’s not as simple as that. Andrea really did a fantastic job playing up the tension, denial and confusion that Emily goes through. Like I said in my review, give this one alllll the stars.
Emily is having the time of her life—she’s in the mountains of Chile with her best friend, Kristen, on their annual reunion trip, and the women are feeling closer than ever. But on the last night of the trip, Emily enters their hotel suite to find blood and broken glass on the floor. Kristen says the cute backpacker she brought back to their room attacked her, and she had no choice but to kill him in self-defense. Even more shocking: The scene is horrifyingly similar to last year’s trip, when another backpacker wound up dead. Emily can’t believe it’s happened again—can lightning really strike twice?
Back home in Wisconsin, Emily struggles to bury her trauma, diving headfirst into a new relationship and throwing herself into work. But when Kristen shows up for a surprise visit, Emily is forced to confront their violent past. The more Kristen tries to keep Emily close, the more Emily questions her motives. As Emily feels the walls closing in on their cover-ups, she must reckon with the truth about her closest friend. Can Emily outrun the secrets she shares with Kristen, or will they destroy her relationship, her freedom—even her life?
Book Club Questions for We Were Never Here
- The Chile trip seems to be a blast for Emily and Kristen. It serves as a huge bonding trip and everything is going picture perfect. Until Emily discovers that Kristen killed Paolo, the backpacker she met at a bar and took back to their hotel. Kristen says it was an act of self defense. What were your thoughts as this all unfolded? Should Emily have questioned Kristen more about what happened?
- This wasn’t the first ‘cover-up the murder’ experience for these two friends as the same thing happened the year before when Kristen killed the backpacker Sebastian who assaulted Emily. While on the surface it appears to be a bizarre and horrifying coincidence, let’s discuss the differences between the two incidents.
- Why do you think Emily agreed to go along with Kristen and hide both murders? What would you have done if you were Emily?
- Emily and Kristen are so close—yet there are clear cracks in their friendship. When did you start to suspect that Kristen was possessive and manipulative?
- At first Emily believes that Kristen is a savior in some ways—the one to rescue her when things go bad. In what ways did Kristen play that part of the ideal best friend role?
- Why was Emily initially resistant to tell Kristen about Aaron?
- When Kristen moves back to Milwaukee, it throws Emily for a loop. While she tries to pretend to be excited, having Kristen in the same city brings back all the trauma of their past two trips. When did Emily start to suspect there was something dark about Kristen?
- Should Emily have gone to the police herself when Paolo’s family went to the media about their missing son?
- Why did Kristen save the evidence of both murders?
- We eventually find out more about Kristen’s past, including that her father abused her friend Jamie and potentially Kristen herself. Jamie’s mom tells Emily the entire story and it turns out that Jamie was the one to light Kristen’s house on fire, killing both of Kristen’s parents. Let’s talk about this reveal.
- Did that reveal show Kristen’s actions and behavior in a different light for you or did your opinion of her stay the same?
- Everything comes to a head in Phoenix and Aaron inadvertently ends up killing Kristen. What did you think about the climax?
- Were you surprised that both Emily and Aaron ended up free in the end? How did you feel about the ending overall?
- Do you prefer to travel to huge tourist destinations or do you try the backpacker/off the beaten path route?
- If they turn the book into a TV series or movie, who should play the key roles?
Hope you enjoyed book club questions for We Were Never Here! Here are some more recommendations along with links to book club questions.
The Herd by Andrea Bartz
If you’re new to Andrea Bartz’s writing, I highly recommend you check out The Herd by her! This is a creative story that really examines female ambition and secrets.
As CEO of the Herd, an elite women-only coworking space, Eleanor Walsh seems to have it all: close friends, a sweet husband, and the most glamorous and successful female-empowerment-based company in New York City. Then she vanishes on the night of a glitzy press conference—and the police suspect foul play.
For Hana, the head of PR for the Herd and Eleanor’s best friend, this is a nightmare. For Hana’s sister, Katie, a journalist, this is the story that will make her career. But when the sisters launch their own investigation and begin to learn what Eleanor was hiding, they must also face the secrets they’ve been keeping from each other—and confront just how dangerous it can be when women’s perfect veneers start to crack.
The Maidens by Alex Michaelides
Edward Fosca is a murderer. Of this Mariana is certain. But Fosca is untouchable. A handsome and charismatic Greek tragedy professor at Cambridge University, Fosca is adored by staff and students alike—particularly by the members of a secret society of female students known as The Maidens.
Mariana Andros is a brilliant but troubled group therapist who becomes fixated on The Maidens when one member, a friend of Mariana’s niece Zoe, is found murdered in Cambridge.
Mariana, who was once herself a student at the university, quickly suspects that behind the idyllic beauty of the spires and turrets, and beneath the ancient traditions, lies something sinister. And she becomes convinced that, despite his alibi, Edward Fosca is guilty of the murder. But why would the professor target one of his students? And why does he keep returning to the rites of Persephone, the maiden, and her journey to the underworld?
When another body is found, Mariana’s obsession with proving Fosca’s guilt spirals out of control, threatening to destroy her credibility as well as her closest relationships. But Mariana is determined to stop this killer, even if it costs her everything—including her own life.