A lovely group of educators emailed me requesting a few discussion questions for Eighty Days of Sunlight, my debut novel. I figured I’d share them here.
1. How does Jason and Tommy’s relationship resemble other brotherly relationships in literature? In real life? (In terms of “what really happened,” it might be interesting to note that the author does not have a brother.)
2. It’s almost a cliché to say “the setting is almost a character.” However, in this book, the setting functions like a character because it has its own history and mood—and because it enables and limits the characters in various ways. How would you describe the atmosphere (setting + mood) of Pittsburgh? Of Wilkes-Barre?
3. What are some ways that the setting affects who the characters are and what they can do? (It might be better to focus on either Wilkes-Barre or Pittsburgh.)
4. Have you read any other books that dealt with issues related to settling an estate or inheritance? If so, how does this book compare?
5. Jason insists that he can create an identity where race isn’t a defining characteristic. Is this possible in contemporary America?
6. Who would be the second-best narrator for this novel? (Aside from Jason, who would have been a good narrator for certain significant events?)
7. If you were teaching this book, which significant themes would you point out to your students?
8. What, if any, lessons does this book have to offer regarding the topic of masculinity or belonging?
9. If this book were set in the contemporary age (let’s say that Jason and Tommy are attending college in 2020), how might the characters and plot be affected?