Reader’s Guide – The Deer Effect
Questions for Discussion
- The book’s epigraph is scripture from the Bible in the Book of Ecclesiastes. How does this set the tone for the events that follow? How is this scripture intended to shape the minds of the readers?
- Two life-changing events happen in the first three chapters. Talk about how life drastically changes so quickly for the characters involved. Can you think of other events that have happened in the blink of an eye, either to you or someone you know?
- When Rod stops Hannah to tell her he is leaving, how would you have responded to a his comment? When Hannah sees the downed deer, she blames the motorcyclists who race through their neighborhood. Was she right to assume this?
- After everything that happens, Rod can’t forgive himself. His guilt and grief color events that are unfolding before him. When do you feel that Rod finally understands that there is a greater power at play?
- Think about the structure of the novel. Susan Wingate begins by telling parallel stories, which eventually connect. How does this build the story’s suspense? Were Rod’s actions plausible? Was he acting rationally? Or was he acting irrationally and letting grief get the better of him?
- Talk about the characters: Rod, Hannah, Hannah as a girl, and Bobby. How do their experiences shape who (or what) they are, how they react to events, and the decisions they make?
- Rod turns to several people for help, including Hannah’s mother, and her pastor. If you were in trouble, who could you trust? What would you do if someone close to you called needing help like Rod? Would you believe Rod?
- What do you feel finally made Rod trust Bobby—a dog, enough to follow where he was leading Rod? Do you feel other-worldly things can be at play in our current world?
- What has happened to you that makes you sympathetic to Rod’s dilemma and his pain?
- By the end of the story, a woman comes out while Rod is walking Bobby. She seems appalled that they “just left the deer” on the side of the road. There, Susan Wingate flips the narrative from the story of Hannah’s death to that of the deer. Did doing so shock you? Did it make you more sympathetic to the deer or to Hannah?