Reading guide for The Twelve-Mile Straight by Eleanor Henderson

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Discuss |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

The Twelve-Mile Straight

A Novel

by Eleanor Henderson

The Twelve-Mile Straight by Eleanor Henderson X
The Twelve-Mile Straight by Eleanor Henderson
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Sep 2017, 560 pages
    Paperback:
    Sep 2018, 560 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
BookBrowse First Impression Reviewers
Buy This Book

About this Book

Reading Guide Questions Print Excerpt

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!

  1. The novel's namesake, the twelve-mile straight, is a road that connects the Jesup family farm to the nearest town. From the initial lynching of Genus Jackson, the road remains thematically important throughout the whole novel. In what ways does the road act as a character in its own right?
  2. How does the relationship between Elma and Nan change over time? How is their relationship informed by the power imbalance between the two? In what ways is Elma able to protect Nan and in what ways does she fail?
  3. What is the historical impact of Prohibition and the Great Depression on the Jesup family and the farm?
  4. Which gender roles does Elma end up submitting to, and which are she able to subvert?
  5. The novel is narrated by an omniscient voice. How did it affect your experience as a reader to hear the perspective of multiple characters, even characters considered to be villains?
  6. Nan has her tongue cut out at a young age, rendering her mute. How does this state further entrench her status within the racial and gendered power structure of the Jesup family? Is there any way in which she is able to establish agency in spite of this?
  7. What was the impact of having the paternity of both Nan and the twins hidden to the reader for most of the novel? Were there hints established early on that led you to the truth?
  8. Who in the novel is truly innocent? Who is unequivocally evil? Among the characters who are complicit in the structural injustice around them, do any of them achieve redemption? Are there any heroes?
  9. The novel deals with various forms of violence, almost all of which is inflicted by men, both in physical abuse of other men, and sexual abuse of women. Is there a stylistic difference in the way Henderson writes about these two forms of violence?


Unless otherwise stated, this discussion guide is reprinted with the permission of Ecco. Any page references refer to a USA edition of the book, usually the trade paperback version, and may vary in other editions.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: The Flight Portfolio
    The Flight Portfolio
    by Julie Orringer
    At once a sweeping historical narrative, an insightful character study and a tender romance, Julie ...
  • Book Jacket: How to Make Friends with the Dark
    How to Make Friends with the Dark
    by Kathleen Glasgow
    Don't go to bed angry; make up after fights; always say I love you – you don't know when ...
  • Book Jacket
    Red Birds
    by Mohammed Hanif
    Mohmmed Hanif's Red Birds is part Catch-22, part Slaughterhouse-Five, part Kafka's The Castle, and ...
  • Book Jacket: Endeavour
    Endeavour
    by Peter Moore
    Miriam-Webster defines a biography as "a usually written history of a person's life." One might ...

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    Travelers
    by Helon Habila

    A startlingly exploration of the African diaspora in Europe, by an acclaimed international writer.
    Reader Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    The Volunteer
    by Jack Fairweather

    The true story of one man, an underground army, and the secret mission to destroy Auschwitz from within.
    Reader Reviews

Win this book!
Win The Guest Book

The Guest Book
by Sarah Blake

"An American epic in the truest sense."
—Entertainment Weekly

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

M I Haste, R A L

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.