Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
An Introduction Finding Fish relates the gripping story of one person's personal
triumph over considerable adversity. Antwone Quenton Fisher's challenges begin
before he is born, when his father is killed by a girlfriend in a tragic
accident. Born in prison to the single mother who has no means to care for him,
Fisher is sent to live with a foster family, where he endures near-constant
verbal and physical abuse by those who shelter him. Fisher chronicles his
experiences from personal memory and incorporates into his story accounts from
the many caseworkers who tracked his progress and decline in the foster care
In his mid-teens Fisher leaves his foster family and enters George Junior
Republic, a private institution where he begins to turn his life around. Not
long after, as an emancipated minor, Fisher winds up homeless and survives on
the streets by his wits and an affiliation with Butch, a criminal who uses
Fisher's status as a minor to his own advantage.
In order to avoid the dangers and uncertainties of life on the street, Fisher
enlists in the navy, and he becomes a man of the world. During the course of his
naval career, Fisher finally acknowledges the pain that his childhood has caused
him, and he begins to deal with some of the rage that he has suppressed for many
years. Fisher creates a family for himself out of his comrades in the navy, and
he explores his own growing fascination with language and writing.
Finding Fish shows how, out of this unlikely mix of deprivation and
hope, an artist was born -- first as the child who painted the feelings his
words dared not speak, then as a poet and storyteller who would eventually
become one of Hollywood's most sought-after screenwriters. A tumultuous and
ultimately gratifying tale of self-discovery written in Fisher's gritty yet
melodic literary voice, Finding Fish is an unforgettable reading
Why do you think Fisher opens his memoir with the story of his father,
Eddie Elkins, a man that he never met? What are some of the challenges
Fisher faces immediately from birth?
Did you find Fisher's use of caseworkers' reports effective? Did reading
these reports give you a clearer sense of the experience of "Baby Boy
Fisher" in the foster system? Did you think that Fisher's caseworkers
were sympathetic to his special needs as a foster child?
How would you describe Fisher's experience at the Pickett home? How does
his relationship with Dwight help to define his character? What events
during his time with the Picketts reveal the complicated nature of his
relationship with Mr. and Mrs. Pickett, his foster parents, and their
How does Fisher describe his visits with his birth mother, Eva "Mae
Mae" Fisher during his childhood? How do they compare to his encounter
with her as an adult?
Who is Butch? How does he emerge as a person who can protect Fisher? Were
you surprised by Fisher's involvement in Butch's criminal enterprises? What
motivates Fisher to get out of "the game"?
How does Fisher's experience in the Navy define him? What role does
Lieutenant Commander Williams play in his emotional development? How does
Fisher's love for writing transpire at this time?
Antwone survives by seeing himself as a poet, sometimes literally, but
also as someone who believes that having an artistic spirit will help him
emerge triumphantly from his childhood experiences. Do you believe this is
true? What is the best illustration of this in Fisher's life? Do you think
people in general need a creative outlet to help them surmount certain
In your opinion, how does the life of Antwone Quenton Fisher relate to the
phrase, "That which does not kill us makes us stronger"? What
kinds of adversity does Fisher overcome in order to accomplish achievements
in his personal life and career?
Are there any aspects in the life of Antwone Quenton Fisher that you found
especially troubling, inspiring, or unusual? What were they? Could you
relate to any of his experiences? Which ones?
Unless otherwise stated, this discussion guide is reprinted with the permission of HarperPaperbacks.
Any page references refer to a USA edition of the book, usually the trade paperback version, and may vary in other editions.
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