This reading group guide for The Hanging Tree includes discussion questions, ideas for enhancing your book club, and a Q&A with author Bryan Gruley. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book. For Discussion
1. The first line of the book is, “I have learned that you can be too grateful for love.” Do you think this statement refers to the relationship between Gus and Darlene, or is the author highlighting a larger theme? Think about the various relationships in the novel in light of this sentence. Does it change your perspective on them, or on the book as a whole?
2. Gus has proven himself to be a reporter of persistence and talent. Is Gus wasting that talent by staying in Starvation Lake? Do you think he is hiding in Starvation Lake, still ashamed of what he did at the Detroit Times
? Or are his reasons for living there—his mother, Darlene,
his history with the town—genuine? Do you think he aspires to
work for a big paper again?
3. Many people in Starvation Lake are annoyed by Gus’s negative stories about the new hockey rink. Why does the new rink mean so much to the town? How do the prospective new rink and the existing old one function as symbols for Starvation Lake?