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 julia heaberlin - book-club-primer
julia heaberlin


Black-Eyed Susans

Black-Eyed Susans: 10 Questions

"Do not start this book close to your bedtime, because it will most assuredly keep you up reading until very late, and then wedge its way into your dreams. Julie Heaberlin has written a spellbinding tale."
David R. Dow, author of Things I've Learned From Dying and The Autobiography of an Execution

Readers, beware of possible spoilers

  1. Did you or someone you know experience violent psychic trauma as a child? Based on that, or survivors you see on TV, do you believe there is such a thing as full recovery? Do you believe children are more resilient than adults?
  2. Was the doctor helpful to Tessie in their sessions before the trial? Do you believe in repressed memory and the techniques to unlock them?
  3. How do you relate to Tessa's relationship with her teen-age daughter?
  4. Tessa was conflicted about the death penalty. Are you for or against it? Did this book change your mind a little one way or the other? Have you ever made a stand beyond stating your opinion? Does it irritate or inform you when friends use Facebook as their forum? If you live in Texas, were you surprised about the matter-of-fact way an execution plays out in the middle of Huntsville?
  5. What was your favorite "Southern moment" in Black-Eyed Susans?
  6. How do you think forensic scientists and death penalty lawyers emotionally survive a career where death is a constant? Could you do it?
  7. Was Tessie always in the right when it came to her relationship with Lydia?
  8. Was there more darkness or light in Lydia? Tessa? Do you think most human beings, in a tough situation, will do what serves them, or what is really right?
  9. What do you think of the idea laid out in this book—that voices in your head, especially of someone you love who has died, can be more productive than destructive?
  10. When do you think a person's true nature, and the nature of a friendship, is mostly likely to be revealed?

Lie Still US
US edition

Lie Still: 10 Questions

"I love that Heaberlin uses this book as a positive vehicle to discuss rape and in particular the date rape. We need more books, more discussions... to support such victims and this book creates a voice that ... will be heard because this is not a book of ranting and ravings and man-hating rhetoric—this is a mystery/crime novel that tells a personal story of courage."
Reading, Writing and Riesling blog

  1. Do you think this novel was a realistic portrayal of rich, Southern women or more satire?
  2. Did you grow to like the eccentric characters more or less as you turned the pages?
  3. Emily is still haunted by a date rape in college—do you think she should have been able to let it go years earlier?
  4. Do you believe date rape is more or less devastating than stranger rape? That date rape is still an issue on college campuses?
  5. Many women have regrettable early sexual encounters, where they weren't raped but feel they were forced to do something they didn't want to: Is this a normal part of growing up? Should women talk about it more?
  6. Emily keeps some big secrets from her husband, Mike: What did you like and not like about the relationship between the two of them?
  7. There are funny moments in Lie Still and yet some very dark themes. Do the lighter moments seem in keeping with the book?
  8. Do you think Caroline was more sinned against than sinning?
  9. What is the craziest diet you've ever been on?
  10. Do you think that Emily will ever meet the girl she draws in the painting?

Playing Dead US
US edition

Playing Dead: 10 Questions

"Tommie McCloud is the kind of character that every female reader ends up wanting as a sister or best friend—a friend of passionate loyalties, a no-nonsense woman who doesn't possess the insincerity gene, a not-too-girly Texas spitfire who admits to having "a thing" for her hair but never bothers to do anything but air-dry it."
The Dallas Morning News

"I enjoyed the characters and the well-evoked wide-sky Texas setting of this thriller so much it gave me a case of cognitive dissonance—I wanted to keep reading as fast as I could to figure everything out and I wanted to go slow and have the book world I was inhabiting last as long as possible."
Amazon reader review

  1. Was Tommie's mother morally right to keep such devastating secrets from her daughter?
  2. Do you think you know the "whole" of your mother or are there parts of herself that she hides away?
  3. Tommie states that "it is a cancerous myth that children are resilient" when it comes to tragic childhoods. Do you agree?
  4. Do you sympathize with Jack? Do you think he is a destructive figure or someone to be pitied?
  5. In your experience, what is the single most important thing that adults can do to help damaged children move forward in life?
  6. Women are one of the fastest growing markets for handguns. Did this book make you feel more or less comfortable about carrying a gun?
  7. Do you believe in animals, like horses, as healers?
  8. Anthony Marchetti is a complicated man with complicated motives. Do you think he was really trying to redeem himself?
  9. How did this book change your perception of Texas or Texans (or did it)?
  10. Tommie divides the world into two kinds of people: those who will instinctively risk their own lives to save a stranger's and those who won't. Which are you?

Would you like Julia to talk to your book club?