Grist Mill Road (Yates) - Discussion Questions

Discussion Questions
1. At the beginning of the novel, Patch poses the following questions: "What does it mean to watch? When a crime takes place in front of you, what is watching? Is it a failure to act or is it simply keeping your eyes open?” How would you answer these questions? In what ways does the conclusion of the novel influence your answers?

2. The narration of the novel toggles between first person and third person, allowing Hannah, Patch, and Matthew to speak, as well as an omniscient narrator. Why do you think the author may have chosen to alternate vantage points in this way? How does this style of narration affect your interpretation of the novel?

3. In many ways, the town of Roseborn and its surrounding landscape comes alive as a character in and of itself. How would you describe the nature of this place? In what ways do you see this town’s particularities impact Patch, Hannah, and Matthew in their adult lives?

4. Stalking pervades the novel, from Patch’s following of Trevino and Matthew’s shadowing of Patch to a particularly grisly crime that Hannah covers. But it also transcends such physical action; past memories and traumas stalk the present-day lives of the characters in dreams, journal entries, fantasies, and everyday thoughts. Why do you think there’s such a thematic preoccupation with stalking in the novel?

5. We find out about the secret in Patch and Hannah’s marriage, that Hannah doesn’t know Patch was there when Matthew shot her, about midway through the novel. Hannah, in fact, tells Jen that, "He actually saved me.” To what extent do you agree or disagree with Hannah that Patch saved her? Do you think Patch was culpable in the crime perpetrated against Hannah? In what ways might he have played both roles?

6. At the beginning of Matthew’s section, he writes, "Truth is seldom a lens, truth is a kaleidoscope.” How do you interpret this statement? How do you see this idea play out thematically across the novel?

7. We don’t hear directly from Matthew until over halfway through the novel. In what ways does getting the story from his perspective shift your view of his character?

8. Patch fails to tell Hannah that he was present for part of Matthew’s shooting spree. Do you think that means their marriage was based on a lie? Why or why not?

9. Hannah, Patch, and Matthew all have complex relationships with their fathers. Discuss the ways in which their fathers shape each of these characters.

10. Why do you think Matthew is so resistant to labels? In what ways do labels complicate his life?
(Questions written by Laura Chasen and issued by the publisher.)

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