- Name four things that Robin believes at the beginning of the story that she knows aren’t true by the end. These can be facts, beliefs about herself or perceptions of the world around her.
- Draw a picture (in words or images) of how Robin sees herself at the beginning of the book and another picture showing what she actually looks like.
- Robin Schwartz is very, very rich. She can do whatever she wants with her life. Why do you think she chooses to spend it watching reruns of You, You and Mimi?
- Why do you think the book was called “Not Suitable for Family Viewing”? Can the title mean more than one thing? Does it mean something different to someone just starting to read the book than to someone who’s finished it?
- Do Robin and Levi have what it takes for a good relationship? What do you think attracted Robin to him? What does he like about her? What do they have in common? What are their differences?
- Robin is horrified by the treatment the Bisters received from the townspeople but does she have the right to be so offended? Is she really innocent of prejudging others? Can you name several instances when she dismissed other people based on their appearance or background?
- The Bister story is entirely fictional – but it’s not without some precedent. It was inspired in part by the true, awful story of the Golers. The family is remembered today primarily for the sensational incest trial of the 1980s that sent many of its members to jail. Just as shocking though was the fact that many people who came in contact with the Golers – doctors, teachers, employers, social workers – were aware for years that something wasn’t right in their isolated community but did nothing about it. Too often the excuse was “They’re Golers. That’s just the way they are.” Can you think of examples of people in your community not getting the help they need because they’re different from mainstream society? Do we react differently to a disaster that happens in a country ‘like ours’ rather than in a place that we think of as foreign?
- A red herring is a deliberate attempt by an author to divert the reader’s attention from something important in the book. Usually, they’re used to keep people from guessing who the real culprit is. Sometimes the red herring is a deceptive clue. Sometimes it’s a false emphasis on something trivial. Sometimes it’s more about the tone the author adopts. Can you think of five red herrings in Not Suitable for Family Viewing?
- Red herrings keep readers from figuring out too easily who the culprit is but it’s also important to plant clues throughout the book pointing to the bad guy. Looking back – make sure you finish the book first! – how many clues can you find which would lead you to the real culprit? Are they well hidden? Too well hidden? Do you understand what led the perpetrator to commit the crime?
10. Write a commercial advertising the You, You and Mimi episode concerning the Bisters.
11. Mimi took great pains to hide her past life but nevertheless held on to several small but meaningful keepsakes. If you were starting your life over, what would you hold on to and why?