Reading Guide Questions
Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
- Discuss the character of John Pappas. How influential does he prove to
be in the life of his son, Alex?
- The Turnaround is a story in which many of the characters
undergo difficult struggles and large transformations. Which character do
you think learned the most and why?
- Discuss the role of family in the novel. How does the way Alex thinks
of family change after he becomes a father? How strong a force does family
prove to be by the novels end?
- How do the pressures of youth compare with the pressures of adulthood in
the novel? How large an impact does American society in the two eras when
The Turnaround is set, the 1970s and the present day, have on how
the characters handle these pressures?
- The Turnaround is told from the point of view of many different
characters. Who did you find to be the most compelling character, aside
from Alex? Did you find that your favorite character changed after the
thirty year interim that occurs in the novel?
- Early on James Monroe makes a tremendous sacrifice for his brother,
Raymond. Have you ever encountered a similar sacrifice for a family member
in the course of your life?
- Cars prove a source of endless fascination for the male characters in
The Turnaround, but also a source of major catastrophe. How do
cars ultimately help the characters in the novel find a resolution?
- George Pelecanos sets his novels in and around Washington DC. How does
the city shape the events of The Turnaround? Do you think the city
has a stronger presence in the novel when Alex Pappas is a teenager or an
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.