MLA Gold Award Site

Reading guide for The Webster Chronicle by Daniel Akst

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

The Webster Chronicle

by Daniel Akst

The Webster Chronicle
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Oct 2001, 320 pages
    Paperback:
    Nov 2002, 320 pages

  • Rate this book


Buy This Book

About this Book

Reading Guide Questions Print Excerpt

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!

Discussion Questions

  1. In The Webster Chronicle, it is unclear whether Belinda Jackson is telling the whole truth about the reason for her daughter's death in the car wreck. Is her daughter's confession of child abuse the real reason for Belinda's crash, or was she just another drunk driver who killed an innocent person?

     
  2. Since the first allegations of child abuse at Alphabet Soup came from Belinda Jackson and Lucille Lyttle, the first of which killed her daughter while driving drunk, and the second of which is an alcoholic who is loyal to Belinda, what are your first reactions to these allegations? Especially considering the conflicting evidence which might support allegations of child abuse: that Frank and Emily Joseph lost a child once, that Emily was sexually abused by her uncle when she was little, and that Frank is capable of spanking a child?

     
  3. Terry Mathers's journalistic alter ego, Tartaglia, plays devil's advocate to Terry's other work in the Chronicle. Like Terry, how does Akst's story constantly cause the reader to play devil's advocate and to vacillate back and forth in opinion as well?

     
  4. Aside from the affair between Abigail and Charles Krieger, how else is Terry's livelihood directly connected to Krieger's? How does Krieger's contribute to the growing hysteria of "disclosures"?

     
  5. Does the fact that Frank has an affair with Annette lessen his credibility as an innocent and honest man? What about the situation with Anja? In second-person narration, we find out from Frank that "nothing happened" at Alphabet Soup. Does this declaration close the door on the possibility that Frank is a child molester?

     
  6. The Webster Chronicle explores the ways in which a child's sense of reality is largely created by his or her parents. But how does The Chronicle also contribute to the eventual hysteria that takes place in Webster?

     
  7. Each of the illicit sexual affairs in The Webster Chronicle complicates the situation at Alphabet Soup in some way. Using Julie/Chris, Abigail/Charles, and Terry/Diana, explain.

     
  8. In many ways, Akst instills in the reader the same skepticism, gullibility, and shifts in perception that occur within the characters in the novel. For example, Detective Jepson and Julie seem in the beginning of the investigations to be a virtuous family man and a closet Satan-worshipper, respectively, but by the end of the novel, their images change. Julie becomes an innocent victim of the fever of "disclosures" about child abuse, while Jepson morphs into a sort of McCarthy figure, driving giddily around town, pointing at potential child abusers and also being accused of assault himself by Diana. What do you think Akst might be saying about how we can influence our own perception? If children get their sense of reality from their parents, where do adults get their reality from? In other words, what informs the "truth", the search for which is at the center of the novel?

     
  9. Do you think Terry's devotion to rectifying the damage his articles caused is sufficient penance, considering the terrible things that befall Jesus, Albertson, Pearl, and the other innocent Alphabet Soup employees? Can he now consider himself "successful", just as he once considered his father? How does Terry's view of success change by the end of the novel?

Discussion questions provided courtesy of Putnam Pub Group.

Unless otherwise stated, this discussion guide is reprinted with the permission of Blue Hen Publishing. 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!

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten!

Join Today!

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
Victoria
by Daisy Goodwin

"A hit…The research is impeccable, the attention to detail, perfect." - The Sunday Mirror (UK)

About the book
Join the discussion!

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk
    by Kathleen Rooney

    "Effervescent with verve, wit, and heart" - Booklist, starred review

    Read Member Reviews

Win this book!
Win No Man's Land

No Man's Land
by Simon Tolkien

Inspired by the experiences of his grandfather, J. R. R. Tolkien, during World War I.

Enter

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: A List of Cages
    A List of Cages
    by Robin Roe
    Robin Roe has written one helluva young adult debut novel. Alternating first person narratives by a ...
  • Book Jacket: Homesick for Another World
    Homesick for Another World
    by Ottessa Moshfegh
    The frizzy, freaky, funky, and frazzled all pile on in this much anticipated short story collection ...
  • Book Jacket: Conclave
    Conclave
    by Robert Harris
    Although best known for his fact-based historical thrillers, in Conclave, best-selling author Robert...

Word Play

Solve this clue:

H W S W T Devil S H A L S

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 books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.