Gunners (Kauffman) - Discussion Questions

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

1. Rebecca Kauffman has said that "Mikey is the heart and soul of the book." How would you describe him, and what makes him central to the novel?

2. Follow-up to Question 1: How do the novel's other characters differ from Mikey's natural kindness? How do their various personalities serve as foils to Mikey? Do you have a favorite and/or least favorite Gunner? If so, who … and why?

3. Each childhood home of the Gunners was different: Mikey's was quiet and somber, while Alice's household was loud and chaotic. How do the family environments shape each of the Gunners—as children and, now, as adults?

4. The Gunners tell their stories, offering personal histories of the arc of their lives. In what ways have they changed (if at all) from children to adults? Also, consider the group dynamics: has the way in which the members relate to one another, or to the group as a whole, changed from when they were children? Do they behave differently toward one another as adults?

5. Do you have a group of childhood friends that still gathers on occasion (or perhaps frequently)? If so, what has held you together over the years? Have the internal dynamics of your group changed or remained the same?

6. The core of Questions 4 & 5—and of the novel itself—is this: are people are capable of change? If your answer is "yes," are the changes on the surface … or deep down? If you answer is "not really," why not? Mikey and Alice discuss that very question. What are their thoughts?

7. Another question underlying The Gunners is whether we alter our behavior to suit the people around us. What do you think?

8. Alice likes to be in charge. Is that because she simply has a need to be in control; or does she want to pull people out of their self-protective shells? In other words, is her desire for control selfish or beneficient? Whatever your answer, how does her controlling instinct affect others, in particular, Mikey?

9. Alice quotes her dying grandmother: "Sure death's a little scary but life is the real bitch." Care to comment on that?

10. Mikey wonders near the novel's end whether "having a dear friend, and being a dear friend, might be almost as good as being a good man." What do you think? What does being a "good" person actually mean?

11. The group names itself after the mailbox of the abandoned house where they meet—and Kauffman uses it as the book's title. Are there other meanings the title might refer to, figuratively or symbolically?

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

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