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The Road Home

The Road Home

  • reading group guide
The Road Home lies in the shadows of Manifest Destiny and Wounded Knee; it is etched into the landscape of an old man's memory and into the stubborn dreams of a young man's heart. In one of Jim Harrison’s greatest works, five members of the Northridge family narrate the tangled epic of their history on the expanses of the Nebraska plains. They strive to understand their fates, to reconcile with demons of the past, to live in accordance with the land and to die with grace. As the family grapples with the mysterious forces that both pull them apart and draw them inextricably back together, they must come to term with life's greatest and hardest lessons: the deception of passion, the pain of love, the vitality of art, and the supplication to nature's generosity and fury.
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  • Washington Square Press | 
  • 464 pages | 
  • ISBN 9780671778330 | 
  • October 1999
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Reading Group Guide

Reading Group Guide
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS
1. How is the portrait John Northridge II paints of himself in his "memoir" different from the picture we get through other characters? Do you think this was intentional on his part?
2. Who is the main character of this story? Whose narrative -- John Northridge II's, Nelse's, Naomi's, Paul's, or Dalva's -- did you most enjoy and why? Out of the characters we don't hear from directly -- including Duane, Neena, Adelle, and John Northridge III -- who would you most like to have heard from and why?
3. Much of the book takes place during the mid to late 1980s. Does this feel like a contemporary novel to you?
4. The characterization of Dalva as a young girl is particularly striking. How did your knowledge of her childhood personality influence your reading of her own section of the book? Did she seem like the same person to you?
5. Discuss the nature vs. nurture dilemma as it relates to Nelse. Is he too like his blood relatives for it to be credible? How is he different from them and what did his adoptive parents have to do with it?
6. Both John Northridge II and Nelse see themselves (and/or are seen by others) as men out of time. What makes them so? What else do these two characters have in common despite their never having met?
7. Does Dalva behave as you would have expected when she meets Nelse? If not, how are your judgments related to the commonly accepted view of motherhood? Does sh see more

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