MLA Platinum Award Press Release

Reading guide for Force of Nature by Jane Harper

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Force of Nature

A Novel

by Jane Harper

Force of Nature by Jane Harper X
Force of Nature by Jane Harper
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  • First Published:
    Feb 2018, 320 pages
    Jan 2019, 352 pages


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Reading Guide Questions Print Excerpt

Please be aware that this discussion guide will contain spoilers!

  1. The legacy passed from one generation to the next, is a theme throughout Force of Nature. Falk has an idea of who his father was, but his colleague Carmen has another take. Do you think Falk was wrong about his father?
  2. How much do you think parents in this novel should hold responsibility for their children's actions? Joel Bailey uploads intimate images of Margot Russell. Margot bullies Rebecca until she becomes anorexic. How do their parents deal with this?
  3. "It was like stepping into a fun house mirror. Two faces, each a distorted reflection of the other, looked up in unison." Identical twins Beth and Bree are not the only mirror image in Force of Nature. Alice tells Lauren to "buy a mirror" to understand Rebecca. Two chapters "mirror" one another - they start with the same paragraph although they appear at the beginning and end of the novel. And the narrative begins and ends at Mirror Falls. Why do you think mirrors are such a potent piece of imagery in the novel?
  4. Over the course of the novel, we learn that Falk has been living in a kind of stasis for several years. Why is that? Has he addressed this by the end of their case?
  5. Most of the characters narrate at least one chapter from their perspective. But we never directly hear from Alice. Can you trust their accounts of her?
  6. Given the number of things that might have happened to Alice Russell, were you surprised at the outcome? Did you suspect Lauren might be responsible, or did you think someone or something else more likely?
  7. "Not everything deserves to be forgiven. Alice said I was weak." Do you think it's true that Lauren is weak? If so, do you think her problems with Rebecca genuinely stem from that flaw?
  8. We learn that Jill and Daniel Bailey are the subjects of an extensive federal police investigation into organized crime. Do you feel sympathy for the Baileys? If so, how is this achieved?
  9. "We used to be really close, though .... Like we were the same person." Bree and Beth each remark on how dissimilar they are now - have they really grown that far apart?
  10. The characters seem to feel that the setting is a source of menace: the tree line makes them feel "under siege" and "feral"; the trees "play tricks," they "whisper," "shudder," "groan," and "gaze." Do you think the setting feels ominous? How is this achieved? How do you think this relates to the title of the novel?
  11. There are two timelines in the novel: one that begins at the start of the retreat and another that begins five days later, after Alice has gone missing. How do they shape the reader's understanding of events, as well as of the characters?
  12. Alice Russell is an enigmatic character. We see her being generous and spiteful, insightful and malicious. She may be a victim, but is she entirely innocent?

Unless otherwise stated, this discussion guide is reprinted with the permission of Flatiron 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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