ALU Book Club: Bad Ideas Discussion

August 14, 2019

Not even the threat of bees on our favourite patio/book club stomping grounds could keep us from serving up a cold glass of delicious discussion on Missy Marston's Bad Ideas (ECW Press) – our August Book Club read. Find excerpts from our club chat about the novel below and download our reading guide for your own book club discussion!

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1. Did you enjoy the form of the novel, with first-hand perspectives from each of the characters?

“I liked how the short chapters kept me coming back. It was very easy to pick up all throughout the day.” – Tan

“I loved it. The chapters almost read like vignettes, like they could almost standalone from the whole novel.” – Mandy

“I really liked it. I agree that it flowed together like a short story with intertwined characters. Everything about it read Canadian. It was a fast book to read and I couldn’t put it down.” – Barb

“This was a book I needed. It had weight without feeling like a slog. Having chapters dedicated to single characters also gave you the chance to get a better sense of the tertiary characters.” - Leyla


2. Was there a character you liked, could relate to or could empathize with most, least? Why?

“I liked Claire who shouldered a lot of the bullshit. Her faith in Darren was sweet. The fact that it panned out for her was heartwarming.” – Barb

“Trudy is a great character to me because she is fiercely loyal to her family and also kind of a badass. But Tammy is, for me, maybe the most complex character. She’s despicable for a number of reasons, but she’s also relatable at times. Her insecurity is always in the driver’s seat and fuels a lot of how she behaves.” – Mandy

“Trudy was my favourite. While we got a lot of different perspectives from the characters, her thoughts and feelings seemed to stand out the most to me.” - Leyla

“I liked Mercy. I appreciated her as a young character. She is this little person trying to make sense of the world while the adults around her donʼt have control. She grounded everyone else in the story.” - Tan


3.  Given the circumstances, do you think you would have acted any differently in Trudyʼs place after her sister Tammy ran away?

“What other option was there for her? It must have been tough with worrying what the town would think of her. And she still got stuck with the responsibility anyway.” - Leyla

“No, I wouldnʼt have. I understand Trudy…I think it would have been out of character for Trudy not to pick up  the responsibility” - Mandy








4. There are several scenes throughout the book where Trudy (p.32, 107); Fenton (p.115) and Jules (p.216) look out at ships on the water. Discuss the motif of ships coming into or leaving harbour — what significance might this have for these characters.

“I think the ships signify change. Whether itʼs breaking old habits, or changing familial dynamics. Also in Julesʼ case, the abandoned ship he comes across might be a warning or foreshadowing to him for the stunt heʼs planning to perform.” - Mandy

“Almost all the characters are trying to change their situation, but none of them can. Trudy tries her best to avoid having a baby before marriage, getting stuck in the small town, but thatʼs exactly what happens to her. The progress of the canals and the changing landscape of the time . ” - Tan

“I think the focus on ships, their movement in and out of port, mirrors the ebb and flow of change within the family." - Leyla


5. Love is another really prevalent theme throughout the book. Discuss the differences in the way each character gives and receives love from both familial and romantic perspectives.

“Tammy is spectacularly selfish in love. She comes and goes, at will, from Mercy's life throughout the novel. How does a child deal with that?” - Tan

“Tammy and Fenton's dynamic is in-your-face abusive, but Claire and Darren are also abusive, just in a quieter way, with Darren leaving her and the kids behind. ” - Leyla

“I donʼt think Darren loves Claire the way she loves him. It seems like he just wants someone to idolize him so he rushes back to Claire. And then there's the love between the family which is strong, but does Tammy love Mercy? How do you walk away from that?” - Barb

“Many of the characters seem to love the wrong people. Trudy loves a stuntman whoʼs constantly leaving her for the road, Mercy loves a mother who abandoned her, Claire loves a married man, Fenton loves Tammy even though sheʼs cruel to him.” - Mandy




Discussing Bad Ideas patio-side.




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Stayed tuned Wednesday for our interview with Bad Ideas author Missy Marston. In the meantime, you can pick up a copy of the book for 15% off! Don't forget to follow us on Facebook and Twitter for further, impromptu discussion. Hop on the hashtag #ALUbookclub to send us comments and questions!



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