Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Book Club Questions for Serial

I was super late to the game on this one, but you know something is good when you and your husband look forward to a 4 hour drive back from Nashville and all post-trip dinners look like this. Serial is intriguing, smart, and captivating. It gives you a glimpse into the dark side high school life (life in general really-- high school age or not) and leaves you pondering the lives of those involved for DAYS. It has changed the way I think about memory, adolescent innocence, and our justice system.

Even though this isn't a book per say, I recommended it to my book club, and they were game. Since I couldn't find many out there, here are the book club discussion questions I have planned:

1. You have to start out with the huge question everyone wants to discuss: Who Killed Hae? For fun, here is a poll. Click on your vote!

2. What was the key piece of evidence that convinced you of your choice?

3. The narrator, Sarah Koenig says many times how Adnan "just doesn't seem like a murderer." Why do you think this is? What about Adnan makes Sarah want to believe he isn't a killer? What makes you trust or distrust him?

4. What are your thoughts on Jay? At times he is most certainly lying, but at other times parts of his story match the evidence. If Jay is lying, what do you think his motive is for doing so? If he's not lying, do you think he should have been sentenced for his involvement (confessing to knowing the plan and helping with the burial)?

5. How do memories, or the lack there of, play a role in this story? Why do you think some of the witnesses have clear visions of that day but others can't seem to remember anything? How has this story made you consider your own memory abilities?

6.  Do you think the role of race and religion play a major part in this mystery and case?

7.  Speaking of religion, was anyone shocked at hearing about the disconnect of religion in comparison with private high school life? For example, Adnan seems so nonchalant about drugs and sex but yet fasted and followed other strict religious practices. Do you think this is normal, or was the prosecution right in calling it a red flag in regards to Adnan's character?

8. How does the podcast style of Sarah Koenig contribute to the appeal of this mystery? What does she bring to this story that couldn't be conveyed in a written book?

9. What questions do you still have that you wished could have been answered? See here for 15 Questions Unanswered in the Serial Finale 

10. Some have criticized Serial for having unethical journalistic qualities. For example, the narrator uses traditional fiction tactics (cliffhangers, dialog, flashbacks, etc.) and becomes personally connected to this story and Adnan. This leaves Serial in a gray area of serious journalism, but yet its popularity has led to opportunities for Adnan's potential retrial that might not have otherwise happened. Does the format and popularity of Serial make you feel uncomfortable in regards to journalism and the jurisdiction system?

Want to join along in the discussion? I hope to do a Periscope on August 4, 2015 at 7ish pm EST. Or, leave a comment to give your thoughts!

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