years ago a teacher at an Orthodox Jewish high school told me
she suspected that a few of her female students were cutting
do you know?" I asked.
recall being disturbed and saddened, but not shocked. The Orthodox
community attempts to shelter its own from the dangers of the
secular world, but no community is invulnerable.
months ago these girls were pushing the envelope, coming this
close to violating the school's dress policy," the teacher said.
"Now their sleeves cover their wrists-even when the temperature's
in the eighties. So I know."
had been contemplating writing a novel about teens at risk.
I had a folder thick with articles I'd clipped from newspapers
and magazines: Teens and the Internet. Teens and chat room predators.
Teens who self-mutiliate. Teens who cheat. Teens with eating
disorders. The risk of suicide for teens taking antidepressants.
You See Me explores the challenges faced by young people on
the verge of adulthood, young people who are eager to establish
their own identities, but are frightened and confused. Young
people who may feel disenfranchised, isolated, burdened with
their parents' expectations and their own feelings of inadequacy,
pressured by their peers, desperate to fit in. Young people,
and those no longer young, who feel that no one really sees
Molly initially resists agreeing to search for Hadassah Bailor.
She feels inadequate to the task and has unresolved issues with
Hadassah's father. Did you sympathize with her reluctance, or
did you find it petty? What made Molly overcome that reluctance?
Rumor and innuendo can permanently damage a person's reputation,
and by extension, that of a family, especially within a close-knit,
traditional community like Hadassah's. Can you understand why
the Bailors didn't want to involve an outsider in their search
for Hadassah? Would you have handled the situation differently?
What was your impression of Rabbi Bailor? Of his wife, Nechama?
Of their son, Gavriel? Of Aliza, Hadassah's sister? Of Reuben
Jastrow? Did your impression of these characters change throughout
the course of the novel?
How would you describe the dynamics of the Bailor family? Do
you think the Bailors are representative of the average American
family? In what way, if any, did they contribute to Hadassah's
feelings of isolation? Do you think they ignored signs that
Hadassah was unhappy, or was Hadassah effective in hiding her
How did you feel about Sarah, Hadassah's best friend? Do you
fault her for keeping Hadassah's secret about her online boyfriend?
Aside from the opening chapter, I intended to tell the story
entirely from Molly's point of view. But Hadassah insisted on
having her own "voice." How did her "voice" affect the story?
At what point did you become worried about Hadassah's safety?
What factors intensified your concern? Did you fear that, like
Shakespeare's Juliet, she would kill herself?
Do you think teens are at greater risk today than they were
a decade ago? If so, why? Does the media exaggerate and possibly
contribute to the problem? How can we reduce the risks teenagers
face? How can we protect them? Empower them?
Do you think that parents are na´ve about the dangers of the
Internet and lax in monitoring their children's online activities?
Aside from the tips mentioned in the novel, do you have other
Do you see a difference between cheating on an exam and buying
term papers or other material on line? In what way do schools
and parents contribute to the problem? Why don't teenagers view
plagiarism as cheating?
Was Molly justifiably angered by Rabbi Bailor's equivocations
and lies? Did he "owe" her the truth, even if that truth jeopardized
him and his family? Molly herself equivocates-with Connors,
with Rabbi Bailor and others. Is she being hypocritical?
What was your impression of Cheryl Wexner? Do you think she
was inappropriate in making her son her confidant? At what point
did she first suspect that Justin was somehow involved with
Greg Shankman's death? Was she in denial?
Were you shocked to learn that Justin killed Greg? Do you believe
that Justin felt remorse? Do you view Justin as evil or damaged
The death of a child can create tremendous stress on a marriage.
Discuss the relationship between the McIntyre's. Do you see
a possibility of their remarrying?
I had originally intended to have Molly rescue Hadassah from
Justin, but Hadassah ultimately saves herself, transforming
herself from "Dinah" to "Yael"? Was this transformation believable?
Do you believe that Rabbi Bailor attempted to defend Molly when
he was her teacher fourteen years ago?
At the end of the novel, Hadassah asks Molly if she thinks Justin
loved her. Do you believe he did?
Discuss the title, Now You See Me, as it applies to the characters
in the novel.