I was wondering what to blog on and my thoughts turned to the novel’s reader’s guide. I think I’ll have a little fun and riff off the questions, providing answers and thinking out loud about the things that inspired and shaped my life.
So…which question should I start with?
- Why do most people refer to the adults at The Mountainside School by just their last names? What does this practice reveal about the culture of the school?
- Is Goldie really a villain? Is she paranoid and dangerous or, considering her circumstances, are her actions justifiable?
- Are Greenie, Candy and Gunnar models of good leadership? How do the members of this power trio balance their political and romantic goals?
- Is Cassandra Diaz more than a clever student and an object of desire? How would the story change if she were not in it?
- What effect has Greenie’s mother had on his life? What lessons has she taught him?
- Does Mary Katherine Kimball make brave or foolish decisions throughout the novel? Ultimately, is she a saint or a sinner?
- Who were the Shakers and what lessons do they have for the characters in this novel?
- What’s up with the super long title? Are there incidents involving Shaker chairs that shed light on the role of these particular pieces of furniture in the novel?
- Do Greenie’s decisions at the end of his last year on The Mount bring clarity or confusion to the story?
- What moral questions does this story ask? When all is said and done, which characters seem most conventional and which seem most unconventional?
- What aspects of life at a small rural boarding school are satirized in the novel? What is the point of this satire?
- A lot of teaching and storytelling goes on in this novel. What makes a good teacher and a good storyteller, and what do those motifs contribute to the larger tale?
To learn more about these topics, the author and his other writing, visit his website ianruderman.com