Black River is a popular choice for book groups. There's plenty to discuss!
Want some help getting the conversation started? Here are some sample discussion questions:
1. As the novel switches perspectives between Wesley and Claire, the tense also changes: Claire’s accounts are in the present tense, while Wesley’s are in the past tense. Why do you think the author chose this approach? How did it affect your reading of the book?
2. How does Claire’s story, told from her point of view, alter or complicate the central narrative, told from Wesley’s perspective?
3. Do you believe that Bobby Williams’s jailhouse conversion to Christianity was authentic, or that he is, as Wesley asserts to his brother-in-law Arthur, a sociopath just trying to con the parole board with a story of rebirth and reform?
4. Wesley’s reaction to Williams’s torture seems to be divided between anxiety about how others perceive him (when they see his hands and the scars on his arm) and how he perceives himself (when he wrestles with the loss of his ability to play the fiddle). What do you think was the most profound impact of the trauma?
5. What role do you think Scott plays in Wesley’s journey toward peace in the town of Black River?
6. Both Dennis and Wesley bear responsibility for the difficult nature of their relationship—but is it shared equally between them? Or is one of them more at fault for the tensions between them?
You can find a document with additional discussion questions at the following link, but be aware that some questions contain spoilers! Black River Discussion Questions