Reading GuideIn About The Book
Everything I Couldn’t Tell My Mother makes a great tool to drive discussion around topics for teens, parents, highschool and community groups to open up the dialogue on teen bullying, abuse, sexual health and teen parenting. If you would like Pauleanna to speak or sit in on your next group discussion, please contact Safia to book Pauleanna at your meeting.
Here are some points to get your discussion started.
1. Aaliyah is constantly searching. She is searching for acceptance, love and her purpose. Describe what you’re searching for in your life? How has your past experiences as a girl changed you emotionally and mentally as a woman? Are you the type of woman you’ve always imagined yourself to be? Does Aaliyah find what she is seeking?
2. Aaliyah is great at hiding her lies and secrets from her parents. What do you think of the secrets Aaliyah has kept from her parents? How has this helped and hurt her? How would this book be different if Aaliyah was a boy? Should some secrets be taken to the grave or do you believe honesty is the best policy? What is the best kept secret your mother doesn’t know?
3. Discuss the importance of fathers in the book. Although Aaliyah has a great relationship with her father, why does she still chase men instead of staying focused on her dreams? How important is a father’s role in his daughter’s life? What does your father mean to you? What word would you use to describe him? How is the relationship with her father different than the relationship with her mother? Do you think mother-daughter relationships are more complicated than father-daughter relationships?
4. What is the role of motherhood in this novel? What do you think of Aaliyah’s mother? Do you think Aaliyah will have a family of her own? If so, do you think she will be a good mother? What is one lesson your mother taught you about womanhood?
5. Aaliyah feels disconnected from her mother who plays an emotionally absent role in her life. Feeling like she never measures up to her mother’s high standards, Aaliyah befriends the most rebellious girls at school who help her navigate her teens. Why are mother-daughter relationships often strained and not nurtured? Why do you think Aaliyah’s mother ignores her emotional needs? What could be done by Aaliyah or her mother to strengthen this relationship?
6. Aaliyah has changed over the course of this story. What are the most significant ways she has transformed? What decisions do you agree or disagree with? What would you have done the same or differently? Reflect on your life journey, do you have any regrets?
7. What is your opinion of the toxic relationships Aaliyah has with the boys who walked into her life? Did she deserve what happened to her? Why do you think she does not have success in love? What was the distinct similarity between all the men Aaliyah dated? What is your definition of love? Did you relate to the all-consuming nature of Aaliyah’s relationships?
8. Discuss the issue of friendship. Were they influential in shaping either Aaliyah’s identity or her decisions? What character do you relate to the most and why? How do you think the characters in this book define friendship?
9. Aaliyah is determined to follow her heart, defy her parents and fulfill her dream of becoming a writer. What are you most passionate about? What drives you? Are you working in your dream career? Why or why not?
10. How do you feel about the ending of this novel? Why do you think the author chose this ending? Would you re-write it? What do you envision for Aaliyah’s future?