DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

The beginning of Bent Road finds the Scott family moving to Kansas from recently riot–torn Detroit. What effect does the move have on each of the Scotts? With whom do you most empathize? What is your understanding of why they moved and what is your opinion of it?

How would you describe Daniel’s relationship with his father Arthur? What does Kansas mean to both of them? How does Arthur’s past inform how he relates to his son?

We soon find out in the book that Ray has a reputation in the community. What was your first impression of Ray? How would you describe his relationship with Ruth? How does that relationship inform their actions throughout the story?

Julianne Robison’s disappearance sets off a chain of events that drives most of Bent Road. What were your first impressions of the disappearance? Who did you suspect? What emotions were sparked in the characters and how did those emotions inform their actions?

The Bucher brothers tell Daniel about an escaped criminal called Jack Mayer who they suspect is responsible for Julianne’s disappearance, among other crimes. What other suspicions do the people of this town have? What impact do those suspicions have on the Scotts, Ray, and Ruth? What challenges do these characters face as a result of their history with the town and its people?

It is revealed that Ray has abused Ruth for a good portion of their marriage. How did you react to that knowledge? What was your opinion of Arthur’s handling of the situation? What would you have done differently?

Once Ruth realizes she’s pregnant, she balks at seeking an annulment from Ray. What role does religion play in the lives of these characters? What impact does religion have on who they are and what they do? How would this story have been different if set in present time?

Who is Evie Scott? What does she mean to her mother, Celia? To her father, Arthur, and to her brother, Daniel? What role does she play in this story and what impact does her physical similarity to her deceased Aunt Eve have on the other characters?

It is revealed that Eve died 25 years earlier as a result of self–terminated pregnancy gone wrong. What was your reaction to this discovery? How did it change the way you saw Arthur? Reesa? What effect did it have on your opinion of Ray?

We find out that Orville Robison took the life of his daughter Julianne. What was your reaction to this revelation? How did it change the story for you? What is your opinion of Mary Robison’s handling of the situation?

It is Daniel who kills Ray with Arthur’s shotgun at the end of the book. How has Daniel changed in that moment? How has Celia’s opinion of Daniel and herself changed? How does Arthur view Daniel now?

The Scotts undergo an arduous emotional journey in Bent Road. What future do you see for this family? What can a family do to rebuild itself and heal? What lies in store for Daniel and Evie?

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