Questions and Topics for Discussion
1. How did this book complicate your ideas of life during the Depression?
2. What details do you feel best illustrated the severity of Aaron’s family’s poverty?
3. Do you see any elements of his favorite writers (for example: Edgar Allen Poe, Jules Verne, Mark Twain) in Aaron’s style of narration?
4. Compare your twelve-year-old self to Aaron. In what ways is he savvier or more independent than you were at that age? In what ways is he more naïve?
5. Aaron observes that bad news always feels more present than good news. Have you experienced that dynamic in your own life? What about in today’s news cycle?
6. What did you make of all the crime in the novel? Some illegal activities seemed acceptable while others, obviously, remained taboo – how did you understand the difference?
7. Aaron comes from a family of immigrants. How do you think his family’s foreignness affected their experience during the Depression?
8. What did you make of the ending? Is it a happy ending for everyone (Augie, Ella, Aaron’s father, etc.)?