Discussion Questions for HARRY'S TREES
Spoiler Alert: Please note that the questions below may reveal details from the book.
1. In many classic tales, gold is at the heart of the story (Rumplestiltskin, Smaug’s gold in The Hobbit, King Midas’s golden touch, etc). Gold is often hoarded and fought over. But Harry gives his gold away. How does Harry’s golden journey affect him and ripple outward to test friendships in this book?
2. A number of characters in the novel had childhood encounters with books (Stu’s “The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin,” Ronnie’s stolen “Treasure Island,” Cliff peeking at an art book, Oriana’s fairy tales, etc). Do you have a special book that you treasured as a child? Or a special place that you read? Or a special person who read to you?
3. Amanda is a powerhouse, dynamic and forceful. And yet she ultimately falls for Harry, who is not. Why?
4. We all do something called magical thinking. We’re at a wedding, say, and it’s been raining. But just as the ceremony starts, the sun comes out. We smile because the marriage is now somehow blessed. Lucky coins, lucky numbers, lucky weddings – we constantly imbue the ordinary with special meaning. Name some instances in Harry’s Trees where a character engages in magical thinking, connects dots that are merely coincidences.
5. Is there any actual magic in this book? If not, then why does it feel magical? How is this accomplished?
6. Often, during the course of our lives, the world feels subjectively different – for instance, when we are in love, or when we grieve. Can emotions temporarily transform the world into a magical place?
7. Many people have a memorable tree in their life. A childhood tree they used to climb. A shade tree in their grandparents’ yard. A tree they like to watch come into blossom after a long winter. A tree planted to commemorate something or someone. Do you have a significant tree in your life currently, or the memory of one?
8. Why do trees feel magical versus, say, an azalea bush or a tomato plant? Is it their size? Is it the memories they evoke? Why do we travel to see the giant redwoods? Why do we take trips in the fall to see the maples turn red and orange? Is it simply the call of beauty? Or are we looking for magic?
9. How and why does the power dynamic change between Harry and Wolf over the course of the novel?
10. Is it right that even Wolf gets a little moment of grace at the end of the novel, or did you want him to pay more of a price for being a bully?
11. Fairy tales have been around forever. What's their appeal, and how does Harry's Trees use the fairy tale form either in a traditional way or with a twist? Did the fairy tale elements work for you?
12. Who is your favorite character, and why?
13. What is your favorite scene or line from the book?