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Nightwatching Reader’s Guide

By Tracy Sierra

Nightwatching by Tracy Sierra


Questions and Topics for Discussion
1. Traditionally, the home is said to be a woman’s sphere and a man’s castle. How does the unnamed heroine in Nightwatching see her home and herself in relation to it? Is that view shaped by her being a woman and a mother? Does her perspective change after the Corner violates that space?
2. The police think that the heroine is either delusional or has purposefully fabricated the Corner. Did you understand their perspective given the lack of evidence, or did you believe the heroine and her children’s eyewitness accounts should have been given the benefit of the doubt? How has the heroine been doubted throughout her life, and what do you think are the roots of that doubt? Did you think the Corner was real? If not, why didn’t you believe the heroine?
3. How are the men in Nightwatching shaped by their ideas of what a man should be? Are there generational differences? How do these ideas impact the heroine’s young son?
4. Nightwatching’s main character faces enormous challenges as a mother. What do we expect mothers to sacrifice for their children? What does the heroine sacrifice, both before and after the Corner breaks into her home?
5. Why do you think the heroine is able to recognize the Corner is a threat when she first meets him, but her husband is not? Have you ever felt uncomfortable about an interaction without being able to articulate why? Has your intuition more often been right or wrong when it comes to first impressions?
6. At the end of Nightwatching, the heroine observes how the media quickly loses interest in her family as survivors, and their attention instead focuses on the Corner’s background and possible motives. Do you think that grim fascination is accurate to life and to true crime reporting? Why do you think the heroine is disinterested in the Corner’s backstory?
7. Did you think the heroine had a good marriage? How much sympathy do you have for her husband’s need for his father’s love after his father’s assault on the heroine?
8. Nightwatching’s heroine is not as physically strong as the Corner. What strengths and strategies does she lean on to make up for her relative physical weakness? Do you think these characteristics are valued by society, or discounted? In what ways does the heroine exploit her perceived weaknesses to turn the tables on the Corner?
9. When the sergeant tells the heroine that it is “extreme” to assume the Corner was targeting her daughter, she counters that he ask the women he knows what it was like being a little girl. Do you think that as a society we have a difficult time confronting how young we were when an adult first made us uncomfortable? Do you think it is better to discuss or not to discuss these experiences?
10. The death of the heroine’s mother and the acquittal of the man that killed her causes the heroine to believe from an early age that the world is not just. How does this set her apart from other people, including her grandmother? Do you believe that history tends toward justice? Do you think the heroine’s worldview is cynical, or simply realistic?
11. Nightwatching is set in a New England farmhouse built in the early 1700s, and occurs primarily in late 2020. How does the long history of the house and the recent history of COVID-19 impact the heroine’s reaction to her circumstances? How does it influence the Corner’s actions?
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