The other day I was looking at my blog stats and noticed that the post “Regina, Kim, Justin and ‘Wasted’, Again” is by far and away my most viewed post. In fact, I often sit astounded at the way Wastedmy very first true crime book, affects people, sticks with them, and causes readers and TV viewers to search for more information on Regina Hartwell, Kim LeBlanc, and Justin Thomas.

Indeed, just last night I was having dinner with a book club that had read my memoir Secret Sex Lives: A Year on the Fringes of American Sexuality and the topic of Kim came up. That wasn’t a surprise. One of the members has a loose affiliation to Kim. But what surprised me is what she told me about Kim:

Kim no longer lives in Texas. And Kim’s on her third marriage.

Why in the world did that surprise me? Because whenever Kim has testified in court — and she’s testified in two trials against Justin Thomas — she has always insisted that she’s gotten herself and her life together, beautifully. In fact, you have to read the latest edition of Wasted to find out what Kim testified she’s doing now. It will stun you as much as it stunned Justin Thomas and me.

There were a few other things the book club member told me about Kim, but I don’t feel I can mention those without betraying confidences. Still, I thought my readers and viewers of Investigation Discovery’s Deadly Sins might be interested in that little update.

That same book club, which has several fans of true crime in it, had previously asked me if I had any book club questions for Secret Sex LivesI don’t — yet. But I did have some for Wasted. And since Wasted will be featured on Investigation Discovery’s TV show Scorned this spring, I thought I’d share them with you.

Maybe you want to get ready for Scorned by having your own book club read Wasted. I think it will definitely spark conversation.

  1. Why do you think Suzy wrote Wasted?
  2. Do you think the story was worthy of a book?
  3. What are your feelings toward Regina? Kim? Justin?

    Regina Hartwell and Kim LeBlanc

  4. If Regina had been kin to you, would you have accepted her homosexuality? Why or why not?
  5. Do you think her homosexuality contributed to her murder?
  6. If you had a child who was a cheerleader and National Honor Society student, would you be worried about her or him?
  7. As a parent, how would you have reacted to Kim’s relationship with Regina?
  8. How would you have reacted to her being arrested for murder?
  9. Do you think Kim’s mother was a good parent? Why or why not?
  10. What do you think about Kim changing her story after all these years? That she and Regina weren’t lovers/were lovers?
  11. What do you think about Kim stating under oath that she was incriminating herself in murder by testifying?
  12. Do you think Kim was present during the murder? Do you think she got away with murder?
  13. Did any part of the book make you feel uncomfortable? If so, what part? How and why did it make you feel uncomfortable?
  14. What scene had the strongest effect on you? Why?
  15. Was there a scene that particularly touched your heart? If so, how and why?
  16. Do you think the characters got what they deserved? Regina? Kim? Justin? Was justice served?
  17. Should Justin’s family history and alcohol/drug history have prevented him from getting the death penalty?

    Justin Thomas on the day he was arrested for the murder of Regina Hartwell.

  18. What do you think of Justin’s desire for the death penalty?
  19. Do you believe in the death penalty? If so, why? If not, why?
  20. How can you relate this book to your own life? Do you know people who have been sexually, emotionally or physically abused? Do they cope with the trauma through drugs or alcohol?
  21. Do you believe there is such a thing as emotional abuse?
  22. Do you consider teens getting drunk or high on weekends to be a normal life passage? A part of growing up? Why do believe what you do?
  23. How can parents, teachers, and judges become more knowledgeable about abuse? To recognize it? To talk to kids about it? To prevent it? To deal with it once it’s happened?
  24. What can you do to help prevent abuse and to help others who have been sexually, physically, or emotionally abused?
Suzy Spencer is a New York Times best-selling author and journalist.
  1. Angela Reply
    Good questions Suzy. I wish there was a school district brave enough to allow some high school juniors and seniors to read Wasted and have some discussions and panel presentations, etc. as a result. I think that this book in particular showcases how apparently insignifcant choices of association, of following the crowd, of takind risks without being willing to accept or even acknowledge the possible consequences of those choices can end in shattered lives, shattered trust and tragedy. This book is a thousand times better than any powerpoint presentation by the police or a social worker or guidance counselor about what following your impulses can do to a person.
    • Suzy Reply
      Angela, too many years ago, two or three school districts did allow me to come to their high schools, talk about writing, and talk about "Wasted," and I was able to discuss with the kids and teachers the lessons to be learned from the kids in the book. Honestly, students crawled on their hands and knees to get a better look at my displays and others stopped me after to class to tell me their stories and concerns. Alas, other school districts have threatened their students with punishment for bringing the book on campus.
  2. Melanie Reply
    Wow...interesting update for sure! Love, love, love that you keep us true crime nuts updated on past books! Thank you!!!!
    • Suzy Reply
      Thanks, Melanie.
  3. Angela Reply
    That is sad Suzy. The book doesn't exploit the events involving Kim, Regina and Justin so folks can get some vicarious thrills and shudders reading about "those people". Each one of the individuals in the book came from an apparently "normal" background. Our school kids are craving to learn about life from reality based information. Most of the teens know a Kim, a Regina, a Justin or are themselves one of those individuals. They want to learn how to make better choices, how to do reality based risk assessments for their choices and they need to learn that for every choice made or not made there is a consequence. For fear of offending vocal parents who wish to cocoon their children in a blanket of denial and who mistake indulgence and spoiling for love and guidance our school districts deprive our children of opportunities to learn how to function successfully as adults. I am so grateful that things were much more open to teacher choices and teaching students to question and explore during my school days 40+ years ago.
    • Suzy Reply
      You're right, Angela. The kids really appreciated the honesty and explanations. It gave them insight into friends they were concerned about, helped them to avoid their own pitfalls (which is too weak of a word for what they could fall into), and more. And it gave the teachers info re warning signs of abuse so that they could better help their students.
  4. Pingback: Regina, Kim, Justin and “Wasted”, Again | Suzy Spencer

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