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The Wicked Girls Reader’s Guide

By Alex Marwood

The Wicked Girls by Alex Marwood


Questions and Topics for Discussion

1. Bel and Jade were convicted of committing murder when they were eleven–years–old. Do you think the fact that they once killed predisposes them to kill again? Did your opinion change over the course of the novel?

2. In most cases, do you believe that an eleven–year–old understands the concept of murder? How should the state handle a pre–teen who’s killed?

3. How much of your eleven–year–old self do you remember or recognize in who you are today?

4. Early on in The Wicked Girls, Stan tells Kirsty about a story he’s covering about two twelve–year–old boys who bullied another boy to his death. How does this set the stage for Bel and Jade’s crime?

5. Do you generally accept the media’s representation of an individual—particularly the suspect in a crime—at face value?

6. What responsibility does the media have to uphold our legal concept of “innocent until proven guilty”?

7. If you were trying to bury your past, how would you go about recreating a new life and identity?

8. Rather than frightening away tourists, news of the Whitmouth strangler brings the town bigger crowds than normal. Have you ever been tempted to visit the scene of a crime? If so, what was its allure?

9. Did you realize that Amber was Bel and Kirsty was Jade before the novel revealed their original identities? If so, what gave it away?

10. Ultimately, was either Bel or Jade more responsible for Chloe’s death? Now that you know the circumstances surrounding Chloe’s death, what punishment would you mete out—and to whom?

11. Why does Amber/Bel make her final act of self–sacrifice? Does Jade/Kirsty deserve to walk away unscathed? And does she, in fact, walk away unscathed at all?

12. Class is often perceived as the white elephant in British culture—a hulking presence that many prefer to ignore. But class plays a huge role in the novel. Why does it seem to give us an extra frisson of pleasure when someone from the wealthy upper classes commits a crime? How might things have transpired differently if Bel had gone to Exmouth and Jade to Blackdown Hills?

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