The Weight of This World Reading Group Guide
1. Discuss the longtime friendship between Aiden and Thad. What is the source of their deep connection? In what ways does this relationship both benefit and disadvantage each man?
2. Each of the main protagonists is shadowed by a past trauma. How does this play out in the novel? How is each able to cope, or not?
3. Consider the relationship between April and Aiden. How would you characterize it? Why do you think it developed the way it did? What does it mean to each of them?
4. In this novel, author David Joy sometimes injects humor into even the darkest situations. Which were your favorite such moments?
5. The relationship between April and Thad is fraught for reasons that are revealed to the reader only late in the novel, and which are never known to Thad. What did you think of their relationship? Is April a bad mother? Did the revelation of her past change your perspective? What do parents owe their children?
6. Much of the conflict is concerned with the characters’ ambitions versus their ability to achieve those dreams. What most holds these characters back? What changed for April that allowed her to move forward? What prevents Thad and Aiden from doing the same?
7. What is the significance of the Appalachian setting? How does it uniquely shape the experiences of these characters?
8. The novel contains numerous acts of violence, acts that both propel the plot and shape the characters. Discuss the importance and impact of these incidents. How did you respond to each? Which shocked you the most?
9. How did you feel about each of the three main protagonists? Did any resonate with you more than the others? Which was the most sympathetic?
10. What did you think of the ending? Did the fates of the protagonists surprise you, or not?