MLA Platinum Award Press Release

Reading guide for Neverhome by Laird Hunt

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A Novel

by Laird Hunt

Neverhome by Laird Hunt X
Neverhome by Laird Hunt
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  • First Published:
    Sep 2014, 256 pages
    May 2015, 256 pages


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Book Reviewed by:
Kim Kovacs
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Reading Guide Questions Print Excerpt

Please be aware that this discussion guide will contain spoilers!

  1. From the opening sentence, we know that the narrator chooses to fight in the Civil War instead of her husband. By the end of the novel, we recognize there may be several different reasons for her choice. What was her greatest motivation for leaving? What do you believe Ash herself believes about her choice?
  2. Discuss the role of men in Ash's life, both before and during the War.
  3. Why do you believe the Colonel takes such a particular interest in Ash? Discuss the squirrel-hunting, the battle midway through the novel with the Colonel's kinsman, and the visit in the psychiatric hospital, in particular.
  4. How does Neverhome change your understanding of the Civil War?
  5. Discuss the various transformations of Ash's personality over the course of the novel.
  6. As represented in Neverhome, what is the role of women in the War, and the relationship between women and violence in particular? What might be the larger implications of Ash donning a women's dress to evade and then kill the bandits?
  7. How is she different with each of the book's women? Neva? The Colonel's wife? Her mother? What do her interactions with each say about her?
  8. The narrative is arranged as a series of alternations between intensity and calm, horror and grace, reaction and reflection. How does this structure clarify your understanding of war, and deepen your understanding of Ash?
  9. Go back through the novel and highlight the letter-writing efforts of Ash and others—what role do the letters play in the story? Most fundamentally, what does the act of letter-writing perform for the novel's characters?
  10. How does Ash feel about her husband and her marriage? Do those feelings change when she returns from the war? Are those feelings changed by the end of the book?
  11. How do you interpret the symbolic import of Weatherby's greenhouse? How might his damaged grandson be connected to its construction?
  12. What is Ash's motivation for telling her story? Is Neverhome a confessional, and if so, is there more than one reason for Ash to confess? What acts, both major and minor, impel her to tell her story? Does Ash actually understand or know herself?
  13. What is confessed in writing? What is confessed in telling? What is thought of but never admitted to?

Unless otherwise stated, this discussion guide is reprinted with the permission of Back Bay Books. 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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