Weight of Blood (McHugh) - Discussion Questions

Discussion Questions
1. The novel alternates between narrators, giving us many of the characters’ perspectives but mostly going back and forth between Lila and Lucy. Did you find this multiple-voice narrative effective? Could the story have been told successfully in one voice?

2. How do you interpret the relationship between Crete and Carl? Carl consistently turns a blind eye toward Crete’s questionable behavior. Do you think this is a weakness of Carl’s character, or do you believe that Carl is rightly loyal to his brother? If you were Carl, how would you have handled your relationship with Crete?

3. Lucy carries around Cheri’s necklace throughout the novel, a broken blue butterfly, until she leaves it with the flowers in the cave. Discuss the significance of the necklace.

4. The novel is set deep in the Ozark Mountains of Missouri. Describing the valley where her family first settled, Lucy tells us, “What was left of the homestead now was a cluster of tin-roofed out-buildings in various states of decomposition, a collapsed barn, a root cellar with its crumbled steps leading into the earth, and the stone foundation and chimneys of the main house. Walnut trees had sprouted in the spaces between the buildings.” Discuss the role the setting plays in the novel.

5. Both Lila and Cheri were treated poorly by the people of Henbane. Did they have similar qualities that made them easy targets? Discuss how superstitions played a role in this.

6. Why do you think the town turned a blind eye to Crete's behavior and illegal activities?

7. What do you think about Ransome? Do you agree with her actions? Do you think she could have done more to help Lila?

8. Discuss the book’s title, The Weight of Blood. Ultimately, what does the novel have to say about “blood,” and the meaning of family? Did your interpretation of the title evolve from the beginning to the end of the novel?  If so, how?

9. The Weight of Blood ends with Lucy and Daniel together on a blanket, lost in their own world. Lucy tells us, “I let myself get lost in the moment, looking neither forward nor back, seeking nothing absent but embracing what was right in front of me.” How does this ending resonate with the rest of the story, and the struggles Lucy has had to face?

10. At the end of the novel Lucy says that she is “done waiting for ghosts.” Do you think she will be able to walk away from her “ghosts” forever? Discuss whether or not you think it’s possible to truly put away the past.
(Questions from the author's website.)

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