Sure, your book club could devote its next meeting to discussing the latest Ann Patchett novel or the Pulitzer Prize-winning work of Jennifer Egan. But why do that when you can dissect the deeper themes in Bristol Palin’s memoir, “Not Afraid of Life: My Journey So Far”?
The Post’s Stephen Lowman has already reviewed Palin’s first book. Now — as I did last year when Andrew Morton’s unauthorized biography of Angelina Jolie was published — I will provide this brief, helpful book club guide filled with discussion topics inspired by “Not Afraid of Life.”
The “gnat” comparison: Palin lobs plenty of criticism at Levi Johnston, former fiance and father of her child, comparing him to, among other things, a gnat.
Book club discussion topic: How does Levi “The Gnat” Johnston compare to other great characters in literature who are named after insects? Compare and contrast his traits with those of the Hungry Caterpillar as well as the Green Hornet.
The loss of Palin’s virginity: She notes in the book that she had sex for the first time with Johnston while on a clandestine camping trip with friends from school, after drinking some wine coolers. She does not clearly remember the details of the experience.
Book club discussion topic: Discuss Palin’s depiction of a teen’s first sexual experience and determine the ways, if any, it mirrors what Judy Blume wrote in “Forever.” Related question: if Palin was swayed to have sex for the first time because of the wine cooler effect, shouldn’t Bartles and/or Jaymes babysit Palin’s son Tripp once in a while, out of courtesy? Another related question: do teenagers really still drink wine coolers?
Dissing Megan McCain: Palin suggests that the daughter of John McCain is “self-obsessed” and the sort of person who makes the daughter of Sarah Palin think she “might need to watch [her] back.”McCain also apparently demanded immediate attention in the make-up room, when Bristol and sister Willow Palin were already in the stylists’ chairs.
Book club discussion topic: What do these incidents and observations say about the behind-the-scene gender dynamics in the 2008 presidential race, a race in which Sarah Palin emerged as a dynamic female voice in politics while simultaneously being criticized for being attractive but ill-informed? Related topic: like, who’s ruder: McCain for being a diva in the make-up room or Palin for telling the whole world what a diva she was?
The “DWTS” experience: Palin reportedly shares a few tidbits about her days on “Dancing With the Stars.”
Book club discussion topic: Do a comparative study between this book and other great works of “Dancing With the Stars”-related literature, from Brooke Burke’s “The Naked Mom” to Cheryl Burke’s “Dancing Lessons.”
Bristol Palin as part of the pantheon of wronged women in history: At one point, Palin writes, “Women throughout history have looked back at their relationships and wondered how they could’ve loved a man who treated them so badly. From Hillary Clinton to Sandra Bullock, from Jackie Kennedy to Jennifer Aniston, from Elin Woods to Princess Diana.”
Book club discussion topic: Determine how the aforementioned women might react to being compared to Palin in this context. Would, say, Hillary Clinton and Sandra Bullock chortle softly, or laugh so long and hard that tears spewed from their eyes and they very nearly upchucked a vital organ?