Blind Tiger
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1. At the beginning of the novel, Derby tells Laurel that he’s moving their young family from Sherman to Foley, Texas. Laurel is shocked and understandably anxious about what she feels is an impetuous decision. In your own life, have you ever had to make an abrupt change, one that required you to adapt very quickly to new circumstances? How did you cope with the transition?


2. Thatcher observes that Dr. Driscoll’s wife, Mila --- like many Germans before, during and even after WWI --- was subjected to resentment and suspicion from her American peers. After experiencing Mrs. Driscoll’s kindness toward Thatcher, how did this revelation make you feel? While the events of BLIND TIGER take place more than 100 years in the past, similar events are reported in present-day news. In your opinion, what steps can people take today to ensure this kind of discrimination doesn’t happen in the future?

3. Under President Woodrow Wilson, in an attempt to create a more “temperate” American society, the 18th Amendment --- the legal prevention of the manufacture, sale and transportation of alcohol in the United States from 1920 to 1933 --- went into effect. Instead of bringing about Wilson’s admirable goal, Prohibition resulted in a rise of organized crime, and bootlegging became major business. Why do you think the institution of Prohibition failed?

4. In your view, were the men and women who distilled and sold alcohol throughout Prohibition doing what they could to feed their families? Or do you feel they were taking advantage of a difficult situation?

5. How did you feel when Thatcher was accused of abducting Mrs. Driscoll? The only evidence the sheriff had against him was the word of the Driscolls’ neighbor, who distrusted Thatcher because he was a stranger. How did the neighbor’s reaction mirror conflicts taking place today?

6. One of Thatcher’s many talents is that he has a “knack” for reading people. Do you have a similar ability of your own, something that has helped you get a leg-up or get out of trouble in your own life?

7. Thatcher believes “dumb fate” brought him to Foley. Do you believe in fate, predestination or divine will? Or do you believe coincidence threw Thatcher and Laurel together?

8. Laurel experiences two very personal losses over the course of the novel. Initially, she feels her grief will break her, but she learns to love again, first with her stand-in father, Irv, then with her friendship with Corrine, and later with Thatcher. How did the characters support one another throughout the novel, especially when it came to grief and trauma?

9. The story is set in a dangerous, unpredictable time in Texas. Law enforcement was looking for bootleggers, bootleggers were competing for market share, and undercover agents were active on both sides. How much did you know about Prohibition before reading BLIND TIGER? Were you familiar with organizations like the Anti-Saloon League?

10. After Thatcher helps Laurel take care of Irv’s arm, Laurel makes this observation on boundaries: “Once a boundary [is] breached, it [is] difficult, if not impossible, to reestablish.” Have you ever had to reestablish a boundary with someone? How did you go about repairing the relationship?

11. After Norma is found badly injured, Bill, Thatcher and Norma’s sister, Patsy, discuss Norma’s romantic relationships. Over the course of their conversation, Bill observes that big secrets tend to “erode” relationships, whether those relationships fall between siblings, married couples or lovers. Do you share Bill’s opinion? Or do you think some secrets are worth keeping --- and may, perhaps, even preserve relationships?

12. In a time of great difficulty and poverty, Laurel, Gert, Corinne and Norma worked, in their own ways, to achieve financial independence and stability. Discuss the industriousness of the women in the novel, and the personality traits that helped them survive --- and even thrive --- in such an unforgiving time.

13. Discuss Sheriff Bill Amos’ character. Given his actions throughout the novel --- his motives for hiring Thatcher, the way he cared for his wife, the way he kept the peace in Foley as sheriff --- would you consider him to be a good man or a bad one? Why?

14. At the end of the novel, Laurel sits down with Irv and apologizes to him, telling him she shouldn’t have pushed Derby to get over his inertia, but instead should have “[held] him tight without saying anything...allow[ed] him to face his fears within the cradle of [her] arms.” Do you agree or disagree with the statement? Have you ever found yourself unsure of what to do in the face of a loved one’s struggles?

15. After Derby’s death, Laurel declares that she will “never again surrender control of [her] life to someone else.” Did this declaration resonate or conflict with your personal views on marriage? Why or why not?


 * Some questions from Reading Group Guides.

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