Over July and August, our (virtual) NCW Book Club is Bluebird, Bluebird by Attica Locke. We hope you’ll join us in reading the book, and that you’ll join the discussion in our Discord community or one of our Zoom discussion sessions.
In the meantime, here are some questions that you might like to consider or discuss with friends, family and fellow members of the Book Club as you make your way through the book.
We’d love to hear your thoughts on Bluebird, Bluebird, and any other questions that the book sparks for you. See our post here to find out about all the different ways you can get involved.
Ideas of justice
Darren was raised by his twin uncles, one of whom was a Texas Ranger and the other a lawyer. Both had very different ideas about the best way to achieve justice, and different visions for Darren’s future. Although Darren ultimately chose to become a Ranger, both perspectives remain important to him. How does Darren feel about these two perspectives during his time in Lark? At what points in the book does one approach appeal to him more than the other, and why?
Can you think of any other times in the book when Darren and/or other characters are caught between two different directions? How does Attica Locke use these to develop plot and character?
Which other characters in the book do you feel poses the greatest challenge to Darren’s idea of justice? Why?
The stories that make us
Why does Attica Locke first introduce us to Darren as part of a subplot, as he speaks at Rutherford “Mack” McMillan’s court hearing? What does this scene tell us about Darren, his world, and the themes and trajectory of the novel?
The novel is rich with references to Texan culture and history, and to music. How have these shaped the town of Lark and the lives of the people who live there? Why do you think Locke includes them, and what is their effect?
What about the figure of the Texas Ranger? How do Darren and the other characters relate to his role? Why do you think Locke decided to make her protagonist a Ranger in particular?
Throughout the novel, different types of law enforcement interact: the FBI, the Texas Rangers, the local Sheriff. How do the characters navigate these overlapping authorities? How do these competing jurisdictions shape the plot?
While Wally might be the most powerful resident and business owner in Lark, Geneva refuses to sell her café to him. Would you agree that Geneva has her own kind of authority in the town? How and with whom does she use it? What are the limits of her authority?
How do different characters react to having their assumptions challenged, and what does this tell us about them? Can you think of ways in which Attica Locke undermines received patterns? You might like to think about the characters and their beliefs, prejudices and assumptions, but also about what we, as readers, expect from the crime genre. What does Locke do differently in Bluebird, Bluebird, and why?
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