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Discussion Questions...

1. There is an overarching theme of outsiders in this novel. Susannah and Darryl are useful to the upkeep of Waddell, but reporters who threaten the peace are run out of town. Where do you think Lane falls? Why do you think Waddell treats strangers this way?


2. Erma perhaps has the most development of all the characters, and chapter 23 is a prime example of that. From revealing that she had “found her way to fooling Neil into believing she was an obedient wife” to revealing that “In truth, didn’t she know it all along?”, we have a front row seat to Erma shaking off the fog around her life. How do you think her revelations play out past the end of the novel? How do you think they will affect her relationships to the other women in her family? What really kept her from breaking out until now?


3. Lane’s relationship with Rowland is more complicated than the simple one-night affair that has branded both of them as traitors to the town. Do you think their bond goes beyond their high school history? What do you think each of them get out of this relationship?


4. Revenge, on levels both large and small, public and personal, plays a large part as the driving force behind a lot of character decisions. Are there any events in this book that you think would have occurred without revenge fueling some part of it?

5. The town accepts Bonnie, but only to the extent that they can acknowledge the legitimacy of her grief. What was your opinion of Bonnie? Did it change over the course of the story?

6. The Fielding Mansion offers a jumping off point for the theme of reckoning with the past and the complicity the people in the present have in it. What parallels between the past and present are drawn here? What do you think these characters owe to the future of Waddell and for themselves?

7. Lane ends up embracing many of the things she ran away from. Would you?

8. Waddell never forgot Ted Bundy, and the influence of his story has clear ripple effects through Lane’s childhood and even in the present. Did your hometown have any history that influenced its culture or community?

9. Everyone always says that children see, hear, and understand more than adults think they do. Talley is the perfect example of that; how do you think the story would have changed had she thought someone would believe what she had to say?

10. Did the identity of the culprit surprise you? Why?

11. What do you make of Annalee’s decision in the last chapter? What do you think her motives are?

12. Who or what do you think the title refers to? Did your interpretation change as you read the story?