Inside of Me - Discussion Points for Bookclubs

• The story is told through the voices of three characters: Tonya, India and Chris. Why do you think the author chose this format?

• Five teenagers form the focus of this novel. Two play relatively minor roles and yet are essential to the plot. What is the significance of their relative ages and family backgrounds?

• Tonya is portrayed as a neurotic mother and suspicious wife. Is this fair to her? Did you share her anxieties? Why do you think she didn’t go to the police earlier? Why does she destroy evidence?

• Food plays an important role in this story: a response to bullying; a means of control; a maternal obsession; teenage rivalry; a measure of achievement. How significant is food in your life?

• India, Mercedes and Maria are all parented differently. How effective would you say each family dynamic is? Is Tonya’s jealousy of Victor’s relationship with India justified? Mercedes’ mother treats her as a responsible adult in order to generate a responsible attitude in Mercedes: is she right?

• At what point did you realise who Chris was? What clues betrayed her? Why does she play a game in the London Underground?

• The author avoids giving specific figures for India’s weight and measurements. Why do you think that is? How healthy is the relationship between Mercedes and India?

• Penelope Atkinson-Baker says: ‘Nobody wants to see real life people in magazines and photo-shoots. We can all see them in the mirror, on the bus, in our streets – for free. Fashion magazines are about fantasy. Dreams. Ideals.’ Do you agree?

• How do you feel about Kaetlyn’s role in this story?

• Parminder asks Chris: ‘Aren’t you worried about the risks you’re taking?’ (by having Maria staying in the flat). What risks? How would you balance the pros and cons? If you were Maria’s parents how comfortable would you be with this situation?

• India challenges her mother: ‘You’re the one who’s obsessed. What with your push-up bras, and your control knickers, and your Clairol Nice’n’Easy, and your anti-aging creams and your vitamin supplements. What’s that if it’s not obsessed with body image, I’d like to know?’ Is this obsession? How does it differ from controlling food intake, laxatives and exercise?

• What did you think about the doctors’ and nurses’ treatment of India in a&e? Is India competent to make her own decisions in relation to her health, as the nurses say she is? Tonya feels the medical team are telling her that India isn’t thin enough to warrant being kept in hospital. She would need to be ‘at death’s door or at risk of significant harm or deterioration’. What do you feel about that?

• Should the police tell Tonya that they’ve found her husband?

• Chris says: ‘Trust can be demolished in seconds: it could take a lifetime to rebuild. If then.’ Do you think the Graysons could ever rebuild theirs? Who do you most sympathise with in the meeting in Chapter 37?