About the Book
Seventeen-year-old Farrah Turner is one of two Black girls in her country club community, and the only one with Black parents. Her best friend, Cherish Whitman, adopted by a white, wealthy family, is something Farrah likes to call WGS—White Girl Spoiled. With Brianne and Jerry Whitman as parents, Cherish is given the kind of adoration and coddling that even upper-class Black parents can’t seem to afford—and it creates a dissonance in her best friend that Farrah can exploit. When her own family is unexpectedly confronted with foreclosure, the calculating Farrah is determined to reassert the control she’s convinced she’s always had over her life by staying with Cherish, the only person she loves—even when she hates her.
When strange things start happening at the Whitman household—debilitating illnesses, upsetting fever dreams, an inexplicable tension with Cherish’s hotheaded boyfriend, and a mysterious journal that seems to keep track of what is happening to Farrah—it’s nothing she can’t handle. But soon everything begins to unravel when the Whitmans invite Farrah closer, and it’s anyone’s guess who is really in control.
On BookClub, author Bethany C. Morrow joins Emma Roberts and Karah Preiss of Belletrist for a deeper look at how Cherish Farrah embodies “social horror,” the relationships between teenage girls, and how Bethany built these complex and challenging characters. Farrah’s chilling, unforgettable voice and the book’s searing commentary on race and class make this a Belletrist + BookClub pick you won’t soon forget.
- Farrah is intent on controlling her circumstances, reactions, and other people. Where do you think this need for control originates for her? In what ways does her need for control resonate with you?
- In chapter 3, Farrah describes Cherish as a “typical” teenage girl. What do you think she means by that? What does a “typical” teenage girl look like to you? How does Cherish fit that mold, and how does she break it? (You can see Emma & Karah discuss this question in the “Background” video.)
- In chapter 4, Brianne presents The Whipping Boy to Farrah. What did that moment bring up for you? Were you suspect of her or did you share Farrah’s initial reaction that the book symbolizes the Whitmans’ affection for her?
- In chapter 5, Farrah says of her father, “My dad’s just a person, easy to ignore.” How does Farrah regard the male parental figures in her life in contrast to the female parental figures?
- Throughout the book, Farrah refers to her mother by her full name, Nichole Turner. Why doesn’t she call her “Mom” or “My mother”? How did this inform your understanding of their relationship?
- In chapter 5, Farrah goes to her parents’ new home just hours before dinner with them. Why do you think she did this? What does she gain by being in the house alone first? Was it a good idea or a bad idea?
- How did you initially respond to Kelly as a character? Once you had a clear picture of his circumstances, what changed? Why do you think he waited so long to tell Farrah the truth?
- Were you suspicious of the Whitmans from the beginning? If not, is there one event that made you begin to mistrust them?
- Farrah is so intent on controlling her impulses throughout the book, but she lets herself “uncoil” in the gazebo with Kelly. Why do you think she chose that moment to drop her mask and become violent?
- There are references to supernatural forces throughout the novel: Farrah seeing a halo over Brianne’s head, the suggestion that Kelly has stepped into Tariq’s body, Farrah’s visualization of fire, and the feeling of her mother’s presence in the climax. How did these moments impact your experience of the book’s genre and of Farrah as a narrator?
- What was most surprising about the ending? Why do you think the author chose the character they chose to pay the ultimate price? What are you taking away from the ending? (You can see Emma & Karah discuss a version of this question in the “Social Horror” video.)
About the Author
Bethany C. Morrow is an Indie Bestselling author who writes for adult and young adult audiences, in genres ranging from speculative literary to contemporary fantasy to historical. She is author of the novels MEM and A SONG BELOW WATER, which is an Audie, Ignyte, and Locus finalist. She is editor/contributor to the young adult anthology TAKE THE MIC, the 2020 ILA Social Justice in Literature award winner. Her work has been chosen as Indies Introduce and Indie Next picks, and featured in The LA Times, Forbes, Bustle, Buzzfeed, and more. She is included on USA TODAY's list of 100 Black novelists and fiction writers you should read.