If you want one of the Welches to call or Skype in to be part of your book club’s discussion, please email your request–date, time and which Welch–to: firstname.lastname@example.org. In the meantime, here are a few questions to get you all started:
BOOK CLUB DISCUSSION QUESTIONS
1. Memory plays a big role in all memoirs, but most are based on just one person’s account of past events. In The Kids Are All Right, the Welches rely on not just one but four accounts of the past — and in some cases they disagree about what happened. What does this tell you about memory as a reliable narrator? Does this challenge the way you perceive other memoirs?
2. “I wanted to be an actress just like Mom.” Throughout the book, Liz struggled between the successful facade she has created and her actual experience. What do you feel was the difference between the two?
3. The Welches never learned the truth of their father’s death. What do you think happened that night? Was his death an accident?
4. Liz, Dan and Amanda all believed that Diana was living a happy life at the Chamberlains, and that her being a part of a “normal” family was the best situation for her at the time. What was it that made them feel this way? Do you think they were right?
5. When the book begins, Amanda doesn’t want to be a part of “any of that family bulls**t” like going on a beach vacation. And yet, by the end of the book, she fills her farmhouse in Virginia with heirlooms from her parents’ home so that all her siblings would have a place to come for holidays. How did Amanda shift from rebellious daughter to the siblings’ de-facto matriarch?
6. “That was the biggest thing for me, being the only boy.” Throughout the book, Dan struggles with what it means to be a man. How did this affect his relationship with his sisters? And how did it affect the way he perceived himself within the family?
7. Diana got in trouble for lying while she lived with the Chamberlains. Why do you think she felt compelled to do so?
8. There is a supernatural thread that runs throughout the book, from ghosts to past life regression, to religious healers and tent revivals. What was the role of the supernatural in the Welch family home? Who believed, and who didn’t? Were there stronger bonds because of it?
9. Animals and pets played a large part in the book – from Bentley, the misbehaved dog that Liz bought for her mother to the “demon bunny” Liz’s friends surprised her with in college. What are the parallels between these two scenes? What were the intentions of these gifts, and what were the reactions to receiving them?
10. Ann Williams was a soap opera actress but her life story was in many ways more unbelievable than any of her character’s roles. How so?
11. The Christmas after their mother died, Liz writes, “Nancy Chamerberlain offered us bagels, cream cheese and lox and my heart sank further. Mom made homemade pumpkin bread dense with molasses, raisins and walnuts… That to me was Christmas.” How does food and holiday cooking play a role in this family’s identity?
12. How did music play a role in re-connecting the Welch children? How would you describe the soundtrack to “The Kids Are All Right”?
13. Liz and Dan had some success in doing commercials. How would you describe the irony between the personaes they projected and what was going on in their lives at the time?
14. Amanda calls Karen, the woman who took Dan in, a “bitch” more than once in the book. Dan says he did not like her, but at least he knew her. What are your thoughts about Karen?
15. This book is told from the perspective of the four Welch children. If Nancy Chamberlain wrote this story from her point of view, how would she explain her decision to cut Diana off from her siblings? And why do you think she sent Diana to live with Amanda in the end?