Wonder Valley (Pochoda) - Discussion Questions

Discussion Questions
We'll add publisher questions if and when they're available; in the meantime, please use our LitLovers talking points to help start a discussion for Wonder Valley … then take off on your own:

1. The novel opens with a naked man jogging through Los Angeles traffic. Other than the simple surprise of it, what does his nudity come to represent for the characters who witness him? How does his nakedness function as a literary symbol?

2. Talk about each of the major characters, starting with Tony. How would you describe him? What has led to his dissatisfaction with life … and why does he get out of his car to chase the jogger?

3. What about Ren, imprisoned since he was 12 years old. How has his time in custody affected him? What has he come to realize about "how breakable people are." What happens when he tracks down his mother on skid row?

4. Then there's Blake: "Sam was fearless. Blake worked hard to be." How does that observation articulate the ways Blake differs from  his partner in crime? Is Blake redeemable?
5. What is Britt hoping to find, or escape from, at the commune? In other words, why is she there?

6. Describe Howling Tree Ranch, including its leader Patrick and his followers — who believe everything he does (dragging a stick through the sand) has mystical significance.

7. Why does Owen want to escape from his parents?

8. All the novel's characters exist at the fringes of society. They are in many ways flawed, broken, even violent. Whom do you find most compelling? Are any particularly sympathetic … all of them, in some fashion … none of them?

9. At one point, a character says, "your story is the only thing that belongs to you proper." Why prompts her to say that and what does she mean? How does that remark apply to all the characters within the novel? What about your own "story"? How many different ways can it be told — and who has the right to tell it? Does your story "belong to you proper"?

10. Wonder Valley might be considered a "quest" novel. How so?

11. While not a mystery or crime novel, how does Ivy Podocha manage to build suspense? Talk about the author's use of plot twists to further her story. In the end, does Wonder Valley live up to, exceed, or fall short of your expectations?

(Questions by LitLovers. Please feel free to use them, online of off, with attribution. Thanks.)

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