1. Why do you think Elizabeth Cox chose the lines from Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s poem “Ulysses” to open her story?
2. Born and raised in Tennessee, Elizabeth Cox fills The Slow Moon with rich details about life in a small Southern town. How important is the novel’s setting? Could the same story have unfolded in a big city? Did the attitudes and personalities of the residents of South Pittsburgh remind you of anyone you know?
3. As the story builds, the attack on Sophie Chabot is repeated through the eyes of more than one character, and the details of what really happened that night are gradually revealed. How did this affect your impression of the main characters who were directly involved in the crime?
4. How would you describe the romantic relationships between the teenagers in The Slow Moon, as compared to the courtships and intimacy that Cox portrays in their parents’ generation?
5. What dark family secrets are the Davenports and the Baileys hiding, and who else in town is concealing something important? Is it better to keep family secrets buried, or is it healthier for people to reveal the skeletons in their closets?
6. Bringing out the truth and facing up to it is a central theme in The Slow Moon. Which characters are the bravest at confronting the truth, and who does the best job of ignoring it?
7. Several of the parents and guardians portrayed in the novel take their responsibilities seriously, asking themselves–and one another–hard questions about the best way to raise and protect a child. Can you recall a good example of this? What particular challenges do Aurelia and Rita face as single parents?
8. How would you describe the relationships between Crow, Bobby, Antony, and their respective fathers? What do they have in common? And ultimately, how strongly are the sons affected by their fathers’ life choices?
9. Carl treats his sons, Johnny and Crow, very differently. Why does he do this, and what affect does it have on the two boys? Is Helen right when she accuses her husband of loving Johnny more than Crow?
10. Consider some of the key friendships in The Slow Moon: between Helen and Louise, Crow and Bobby, Sophie and Grace, and E.G. Hollis and Charlie Post. What makes these relationships so strong and believable?
11. When the police start questioning Sophie’s classmates about the night she was attacked, Antony’s grandmother fears that he will be implicated in the crime simply because he is African American. Do you think that she is overreacting, or is this still a powerful concern in twenty-first-century America?
12. After those responsible for the attack on Sophie are jailed, they are visited by several members of the community. Do the perpetrators deserve this kindness, and if so, why? What motivates their visitors to stop by?
13. What gives Sophie the strength to heal?
14. What do you make of the graphic episode that takes place during the October Carnival, when Mackey’s monkeys spin out of control? Does this scene shed new light on the human violence that appears earlier in the novel?
15. At the story’s conclusion, what do you think will happen to Sophie and Crow? Has justice been done?