Reading Group Guide
Smitten with her boyfriend, Madison, sixteen-year-old Divine does what any twenty-first-century girl in love would do -- she secretly "marries" him in an online virtual marriage ceremony! Her fake-wedded bliss only lasts for a moment, though: fresh on the heels of their pseudo-union, Divine's celebrity mother comes to visit and informs everyone that she is engaged to her boyfriend, Kevin. Divine wants to be happy for her mother, and she likes Kevin, but everything about this situation just feels wrong. She's afraid her mother will get hurt again, and she's wary of another man -- especially another celebrity -- coming into their lives. Her thoughts are troubled further when news of her "marriage" leaks and ugly gossip about Madison starts spreading through the school. Soon Divine has to figure out how to mend a broken heart, be a responsible role model, and improve her relationship with God, all while balancing the demands of high school life.
Questions for Discussion
1. Divine tells Alyssa, "You can find anything on the Internet." (page 4). Do you think that the easy accessibility of things in today's high-tech world affects their value? Are there different standards for what happens online vs. the real world, especially when it comes to friendships and relationships?
2. Wanghun is, as Divine constantly explains, just a role-playing game in which people pretend to be married and even have families online. What concerns do the adults in the novel express about this kind of role-playing? How might this or other types of role-playing games also be useful? After reading the author's note and considering this story, what will you say if someone at school tells you about virtual marriages?
3. Several teens in this novel remark that they are proud virgins, or as Divine says, "card-carrying members of the Big V Club." What reasons do these characters give for waiting to have sex? Explain whether you agree or disagree with these reasons, and why.
4. On page 30, Kara tells Divine that she's too young to really understand what love is. Has anyone ever said this to you? How does it make you feel? Given what happens in the novel, or what may have happened in your life, why do you think adults say this so often? What do you think about Divine's comeback: that if grown-ups know so much about love, why are there so many divorces and incidents of violence between spouses?
5. As the daughter of wealthy celebrities, Divine lives a lush lifestyle of designer clothes, fancy award shows, and photo ops. If you suddenly became rich and famous, what changes would you make in your lifestyle? Do you think you'd enjoy the attention, like Divine, or would it be an interruption, as it is when Kevin tries to take the girls out to dinner?
6. Whenever someone disagrees with Divine about her mother's engagement, she says they just don't know what she's going through. Do you think this is true, or is it something else? What do you think Divine is really upset about?
7. While Divine insists that the cyber-marriages are no big deal and that she and Madison didn't do anything wrong, Alyssa points out that if that were true, they would not have been so sneaky about it. Do you agree more with Divine or Alyssa? Why? What other reasons might there be for keeping a secret?
8. Divine complains repeatedly that she wishes her family could just be normal. What is normal, really? Do you think her family is as strange as she seems to think it is? Why or why not?
9. Madison tells Divine that because they said vows before a clergyman, all they need to do to make their marriage valid in the eyes of God is to consummate it by having sex. But Divine knows that isn't enough to make a marriage legal in the United States. What is the difference between God's law and the law of the land? Are there situations in which one might take precedence over the other? What does Divine's uncle say about this subject when he finds out about Divine and Madison's "wedding?"
10. When Divine and her uncle have a private heart-to-heart, she argues that some kids mature faster than others, but he reminds her that some kids who think they are mature, aren't. In what ways do the teens in this novel show their maturity, or lack thereof? What do you think you would do in their shoes?
11. Divine desires Madison, but she feels in her heart that she isn't ready to have a sexual relationship with him or any boy. Have you ever wanted something you knew wasn't good for you? How did you handle the situation?
12. Aunt Phoebe, Uncle Reed, and Divine's mother, Kara, are all extremely concerned about the effect of make-believe marriages on their teenage daughters. On page 141, Divine wonders, "Are they right to be worried?" Given what happens in this novel, what do you think? Have you ever witnessed a similar situation in your own life?
13. In this novel, Trina and Madison both struggle with an unexpected pregnancy that disrupts their lives and causes them pain. Do you sympathize with Trina? Do you feel sorry for Madison? What do you think about Madison's insistence that he doesn't love Brittany and doesn't want to be with her, even though she is having his child? Do you agree with Divine's assessment that Trina needs to "stop tripping?" Why or why not?
14. When Divine learns that boys are using the cyber-marriages to trick girls into having sex, she feels responsible. But Alyssa tells her that it isn't her fault, and that everyone has his or her ownmind to make choices with. What do you think? Describe a time when you were positively inspired or negatively influenced by the behavior of someone else. How do you try to live by example?
15. If you've read previous novels in this series, how do you think Divine has been changed by her experiences? In what ways do you see her responding differently to situations?
Activities to Enhance your Book Club Experience
1. As the daughter of popular celebrity parents, Divine gets to enjoy the "high life," even though she's now far from the everyday glitz of Los Angeles. Get a taste of the celebrity experience by asking your parents to take your book club to the swankiest restaurant or teen-friendly nightclub in town. Try searching on www.city search.com or www.zagats.com for the right place, make a reservation, don your nicest outfit, and don't forget the sunglasses!
2. Many characters in this novel find the solution to their problems by letting God into their lives and involving Him in all their decisions, even the little ones. At your next book club meeting, go around the circle and share your own stories about the moments when you've felt God's presence in your life.
3. Take some time to browse the author's websites at www.jacquelinthomas.com, simplydivinebooks.com, and www.myspace.com/simplydivinebooks.