This month’s FYA Book Club selection is If You Don’t Have Anything Nice to Say by Leila Sales. Check out the discussion questions below! (Slight spoilers ahead.)
P.S. If you’ve already read the book, feel free to add any other discussion questions of your own in the comments!
While the book never goes into detail, it does touch upon two attempted suicides.
Have you ever had a brush with fame on social media? Maybe a writer or celebrity who responded to your tweet, or an Instagram post that got shared by a big account? Alternately, is there anyone in your club that is completely off of social media? If so, why? And how does it feel?
1. It’s tough to make a character sympathetic after she posts a racist tweet on page three of a book. Do you think Leila Sales succeeded in making Winter a relatable protagonist?
2. In her review on FYA, Sarah wrote: “[Leila Sales] masterfully exposes the dark side of social media vigilantism without making Winter the victim.” Do you agree with that? And near the end of the book, Winter asks, “Did I deserve this level of hatred in exchange for what I did?” Do you think she did, or not?
3. Did you think that Winter redeemed herself over the course of the novel? Were you able to forgive her, and do you think other people should forgive her? If not, what do you think she should have done that would warrant forgiveness—or is there nothing she could have done?
4. When reflecting on the mob mentality of social media and its impact on the residents of Revibe, Winter posits: “But when the internet responded to every one of us with the same level of judgement and punishment, then it was impossible to distinguish between who really was or wasn’t a true villain. When everything’s a ten, then there’s no point to having a scale.” Do you find this to be accurate with the current state of social media?
5. While this book doesn’t explicitly tackle cancel culture, the story does explore themes that very much relate to it–especially given the politics of “YA Twitter” and the YA publishing industry, where potentially controversial books are being vilified or shelved before they’re released to the public. What do you think about cancel culture? And did this book change your opinion or perspective at all?
6. For those of you who have kids: Do you think, when they’re teenagers and potentially active on social media, they will face the same pitfalls and effects of “vigilante justice” online? Or do you think they’ll be savvier and more self-aware than Winter?
7. What did you think of the Revibe technique? Was there anything constructive about it? Or did you think the whole thing was a sham?
8. Winter has a true love of words, and consequently this book is peppered with gems of the English language. Did you have a favorite word? Or perhaps a word that you had to look up? (No shame!)