Before downtown Manhattan was scrubbed clean, gentrified, and overrun with designer boutiques and trendy eateries and bars, it was the center of a burgeoning art scene—both exciting and dangerous. Running from the shipwreck of her glamorous and unstable childhood with a volatile mother, Wendy Lawless landed in the center of it all. With an open heart and a thrift store wardrobe, Wendy navigated this demi-monde of jaded punk rockers, desperate actors, pulsing parties, and unexpected run-ins with her own past as she made every mistake of youth, looked for love in all the wrong places, and eventually learned how to grow up on her own.
With the same “biting humor” (People) that made her “powerful” (USA TODAY) and “illuminating and inspiring” (Reader’s Digest) New York Times bestseller Chanel Bonfire so captivating, Wendy turns her brutally honest and often hilarious spotlight on herself, recounting her tumultuous and giddy twenties trying to make it in the creative underbelly of New York City, all the while searching for love, a paying job, and occasionally, a free meal.
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About the Author
Reading Group Guide
This reading group guide for Heart of Glass includes an introduction, discussion questions, and ideas for enhancing your book club. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.
In this edgy and romantic follow-up to her New York Times bestselling debut memoir, Chanel Bonfire, Wendy Lawless chronicles her misguided twenties—a darkly funny story of a girl without a roadmap for life who flees her disastrous past to find herself in the gritty heart of 1980s New York City.
Topics & Questions for Discussion
1. Why do you think Wendy chose to begin her story with the scene of the cops busting into her apartment in the middle of the night? In what ways was this scene a metaphor for Wendy’s twenties, or perhaps for 1980s New York City?
2. One of the biggest themes of the book is love—or rather, the difficulty of finding it. “What was love? Compatibility? Good sex? The ability to stay up all night talking? Or to be able to be together and not say a word?” Wendy wonders on page 22. Take a look at Wendy’s boyfriends and love interests throughout the book. How is each relationship distinct from the others? To any of them share similarities? What kind of love does Wendy find (if any) with each man?
3. How is Wendy’s abortion a turning point for her? Why do you think that soon afterward she drops out of NYU?
4. When Wendy and Robin spend Christmas with their father’s family in Minnesota, the experience is bittersweet for them. Do you understand their reaction? Why or why not? Have you ever had a similar experience?
5. In chapter eight, Wendy begins her schooling at the National Theatre Conservatory in Colorado. How is life in Colorado different for Wendy from what it was like in the first seven chapters? In what way is being at NTC a turning point for her?
6. On page 248, Wendy muses, “Maybe home wasn’t somewhere where you found or were born into but something you made.” Discuss the many different places Wendy calls home throughout the novel. What do they each have in common? How are they different?
7. In the last scene of the book when Wendy marries David, she says, “I may not have known exactly what I was looking for when I’d first come to New York or for most of the time since, but I knew then . . . that I’d found it” (pg. 360). In what ways has Wendy come full circle since the beginning of the book? What is it do you think she was looking for and has now found?
8. Much of Wendy’s love for the theater comes from watching her father, a successful theater actor. Why do you think this draws Wendy to the theater? What is she seeking in acting that she feels she can’t find anywhere else?
9. What is your opinion of Wendy as a narrator and how she tells her story? Why do you think she was able to stay grounded in the midst of such a chaotic young adulthood?
10. Why did you choose Heart of Glass for your book club discussion? What are your overall thoughts about the book? How does it compare to other memoirs your group has read?
Enhance Your Book Club
1. Read Wendy Lawless’s first memoir, Chanel Bonfire. How do you think Wendy the narrator has changed from Chanel Bonfire to Heart of Glass? Can you find any similarities between the two?
2. If you enjoyed Chanel Bonfire, consider adding another memoir set in the epochal days of New York City to your discussion line-up, such as Girl in a Band by Kim Gordon, Just Kids by Patti Smith, or I Dreamed I Was a Very Clean Tramp by Richard Hell.
3. Put together a Heart of Glass soundtrack and play it as background music during your book club gathering. Songs mentioned in the memoir include “Mad About the Boy” by Noël Coward, “Don’t Stand So Close to Me” by the Police, “Pull Up to the Bumper” by Grace Jones, and “Madness” by Madness.
4. When she’s describing living on a budget in Manhattan, Wendy mentions some of the places she would eat at, including Veselka and The Dojo (now simply called Dojo), which are both still in business today. “Instead of Meat Loaf Monday and Taco Tuesday, it was Tahini Thursday and Pickle Soup Sunday” (pg. 14). Try sampling or preparing some of the foods that Wendy survived on, such as tahini, rice bowls, borscht, challah bread, and chicken noodle soup.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Fantastic read - great writer and the story flows effortlessly. I highly recommend this book.
Heart of Glass is a bold and bright memoir that reads like a long and lively conversation with one of your closest friends. A wonderful book.