When I finished Local Girl Missing I found there were several discussion questions for book clubs. I thought about these questions, and here are my responses.
- Why was Frankie drawn to Sophie as a friend? Why was Sophie drawn to Frankie in return?
I think since Frankie has proven throughout the novel that she is a sociopath and/or psychopath. Usually, with these types of people, they find someone who is “submissive” which Sophie is when she first meets Frankie. Sophie is thereby, drawn to Frankie as a friend because of Frankie’s confidence, and willing to teach her about being a teenager in a small town. It was the perfect storm personality-wise.
2. Why do you think Sophie feels so unable to tell anyone about her stalker? In what ways could she have acted differently?
Back before the days of texting, mobile phones, and e-mails. It makes it 10x more difficult to have proof that you have a stalker. Second of all, she is correct in the fact that the local police wouldn’t have done anything. The police can’t take action unless a threat to the victim’s life has been made. However, if she put in the anonymous tip after the rape happened, those women might have come forward before she felt the need to run away. Her stalker/rapist being a prominent figure in the community, it would make it more difficult to prove that he was in fact guilty.
3. The author uses the phrase “Like father, like daughter” in relation to Frankie and her father. How similar are these characters and in what ways? Frankie calls Sophie a liar when she reveals that Alistair has harmed her. How far will we go to protect our perceptions of the ones we love? Are we in denial about our loved ones?
Frankie and Alistair are similar in the fact when they want something or someone they will stop at nothing to acquire it or them. Alistair (as far as we know) never murdered any of his victims. Frankie murdered Jason because she was turned down and she thought the reason was that Jason fancied Sophie more. None of them knew at the time, that he was gay.
The last part of this question is difficult for me to answer. From what I’ve learned in college was that as we grow up we’re supposed to see our parents as the people that raised us as well as their flaws.
Since Frankie didn’t have a good relationship with her mother, all of her love and attention went to her dad, thus building an unrealistic expectation of who her dad is. I would say for those that grew up in a healthy home, this is true. We go into denial if that parent is threatened to tarnish the idealization.
4. Do you think, on some level, Frankie believes her own story? Can you convince yourself to believe your own lies? How do you think this novel approaches the theme of memory?
I think she either spent the rest of her life convincing herself that Sophie was missing. Just like how she convinced Sophie that Jason dying was just an accident. I think it’s interesting to hear Frankie’s side of the story as well as Sophie’s side of the story. Sophie’s journal entries slowly unraveled the lies that Frankie has built up over time.
5. Sophie’s friend Helen insists that “Friendship should be about given and take. It should be about equality” whereas Sophie thinks this is naive. Discuss the power dynamics between friends throughout the novel and how they change.
While they are growing up together, Frankie gives Sophie the protection from bullies and an escape from home. After Frankie went to boarding school, this gives Sophie the chance to gain independence from Frankie. So when they meet up again, Sophie is more independent and is looking for a job outside of Oldscliffe. Frankie expects to go back to the way things were before boarding school, and they don’t because Sophie “grew up”. She didn’t need Frankie anymore to tell her what to do, or how to dress or who to date. Which causes the friction between them when it comes to their taste in men.
6. What are Sophie’s flaws? Is she purely a victim in this story?
The only flaws about Sophie that are noticeable to me are that her self-esteem is low. She never believed any of the boys were attracted to her. She talks about her younger self negatively. By the end of this novel, I felt more sympathetic towards Sophie than I did Frankie. Maybe it was because I could relate to Sophie better than Frankie.
7. Frankie addresses Sophie throughout the novel almost as if she is speaking to her. What do you think that the author was trying to portray by writing this way?
I think the author writes the novel in this fashion because it makes it seem like Frankie is talking to Sophie as if she was actually dead. She apologizes to Sophie for the way things happened as if she is praying for forgiveness for her brash actions.
8. How does young Frankie from Oldcliffe compare to the Frankie we meet in the present day? What has caused her to develop in this way? If Frankie really believes such assertions as “nobody turns me down” what causes her to feel so entitled?
I would say the “old” Frankie was ambitious, wanted to be popular, and wanted to leave Oldcliffe to do something not involved in the hotel business. The “new” Frankie has repressed the memories of the past, she does run her father’s hotel business in London. She loves the amenity of living in a big bustling town. I think she feels so entitled is because her father always gave her everything she asked for.
9. Do you believe that Frankie has real feelings towards Daniel? Discuss Daniel’s relationship with the women in this novel.
I think after two failed marriages, Frankie going back to see Daniel may have made her realize how he was “the one” for her. He loved and cared for his family. Even if he was laid back, that didn’t make him undesirable.
10. What role does the atmosphere of Oldcliffe play in this story?
The way the author described Oldcliffe, it reminded me of places like Coney Island in the “off” season. A tourist town that’s bustling in the summer, all of a sudden being empty for the rest of the year can feel creepy at times.
11. “I don’t think I’m bad. I’ve just done some bad things”. Is Frankie “bad”? What makes someone a “bad” person?
I don’t think Frankie is “bad”. She never seems to bully Sophie or other people. I think she might have some mental health problems, and if she sought help for them, she might get better. Anger and rage can flare up and causes you to lose your sense of your actions.
12. What causes friendships to turn to toxic envy? Are there barriers we should uphold with our friends? Can people be too close?
When we are children, we make friends easily. Maybe they were friendly to you once, or because you got paired up on a field trip. Any of those reasons. However, once puberty and growing up happens, you start realizing that your friend may have things better off than you. Whether they are real or imaginary reasons hatred and jealousy start brewing. We need to uphold our boundaries with every relationship we have. People can get too close and start suffocating you or making your life toxic.
13. What do you think happens after the novel ends? Does Frankie survive the fall and start a new life for herself, just like Sophie?
It is possible that she survived, but it’s just as possible that she’s dead. The reader will never know. If she did, she will either start a new life similar to Sophie or seek revenge on Sophie and her family. I think she’s mentally unstable enough to continue on telling herself that Sophie was missing or that she was dead. She is also capable of wishing to harm Sophie and her family.
Read my review of Local Girl Missing