1. What are some of the main challenges Rico and his family face living in Harlem? Describe Gilberto's and Jimmy's experiences also.
2. List some of the characteristics, beyond the physical, that make Rico different. What characteristics does he show while living in Harlem?
3. How does Rico fit in his environment in Harlem? How does the community relate to him? Consider the Jo Mama School shooting, and the drug dealing and heroin use with Jimmy.
4. How does Rico view his light skin color? How does his view change from Harlem to Wisconsin? Does he feel comfortable in his own skin?
5. Rico hit a low, where he wants to escape his family, school, and street life in Harlem. He asks Jimmy to show him how to use heroin. How does this become a turning point in their lives?
6. The feelings of hopelessness for both Rico and Jimmy culminate in Jimmy catching fire. How does Rico rescue Jimmy? What do we learn about Rico?
7. Discuss the hitchhiking trip that Rico and Jimmy take as they run away from New York. Would this make you more or less likely to hitchhike yourself? Of all the characters they meet, who stands out most for you?
8. Exploring the bonds that bind a family is a major theme in this story. What torments Rico as he leaves New York? How does he relate to his family while he is in Wisconsin? How does the "family" in the farmhouse affect Rico and Jimmy?
9. The book The Adventures of Huckleber