Welcome to discussion day!!
Please feel free to openly discuss any aspect of the novel from chapters "Hawley" though to the end of "Dogtown" (HC: pgs 1-81; PB pgs 1-103)
Below, I have included a summary of this week's reading along with some questions/discussion points for your consideration. I hope what we have read so far has given you a lot to think about and chat about here with us!!
Spoilers will follow if you have not quite finished the first part of our reading, so be aware of that.
Chapter 1 - “Hawley”
* Novel opens with Hawley teaching 12yo Loo how to shoot a gun
* Assortment of guns owned by Hawley, and he always carries one
* Learn that his wife, Lily, died by accidental drowning in Wisconsin; Loo was very small when this happened
* Hawley moves them around the country all the time, lives in temporary homes and motels
* Scene where 12yo Loo hand-rolls a cigarette for her dad
* 2 observations from Loo about her father: “This was how her father must see things, she thought. A whole world of bull’s-eyes…. Hawley was always watching. Always waiting.” (p. 8; PB)
Chapter 2 - “The Greasy Pole”
* With each move, they keep only a few possessions - buy new clothes, toys and whatever they need in each new town
* Loo values a telescope and a planishphere, which had been her mother’s, given to Loo on her 6th birthday. These always travel with her on moves.
* They eat ramen noodles, soup warmed in the cans, and chinese food on special occasions
* Loo's 11th birthday -- they are in a motel in San Francisco. Hawley gives Loo a chessboard as a gift. Loo plays alone. “Loo knew how to drown out noises. She’d been drowning out things for as long as she could remember.” (p. 14; PB)
* Hawley then moves them to Lily’s hometown of Olympus, Mass. Hawely stops at Lily’s mother’s house (Mabel Ridge). Loo waits in the car but observes the encounter.
* Hawley warns Loo not to go to “Dogtown” - a rugged, wooded area of town
* Hawley ends up buying a house “with money from a safe-deposit box in Boston.”
* He also buys Loo a yellow bicycle - her first one - which she learns to ride in a day
* They spend the summer digging clams
* Registers in a new school - the one Lily’s mum attended. Principal Gunderson went to school with Lily. His family owns a restaurant, so Hawley begins selling his catch directly to them.
* This doesn’t sit well with other fishermen in town, and they begin to menace Hawley/his possessions.
Joe Strand and Pauly Fisk, in particular, retaliate against Hawley -- Hawley eventually has enough and breaks Joe’s jaw, then drives over and throws Pauly in the ocean. But jumps in after him so Pauly won’t drown. Loo witnesses these incidents
* Hawley is left alone after these incidents
* Loo becomes a target at school, especially by the sons of Joe and Pauly. Jeremy and Pauly Jr. bully and harass Loo. Loo does not tell Hawley what is going on.
* Marshall Hicks, to quell rumours, follows Loo after school one day, takes her shoes and throws them in the ocean. Loo knocks him out with a piece of driftwood, then breaks one of Marshall’s index fingers. Marshall never tells.
* Loo then creates a ‘rock-in-a-sock’, and takes it too school.
* Loo corners Jeremy and Pauly Jr. in the bathroom and beats them with the rock-in-a-sock
* Principal Gunderson calls the dads in for a meeting. Peace brokered, but all three men agree to join Gunderson’s Grease Pole team
* At the event, Hawley takes off his shirt and he has bullet hole scars across his body.
* Hawley captures the red flag on his attempt, and the town goes wild.
Chapter 3 - “Bullet Number One”
* Hawley is on his own at 16, partnered up with 25yo Jove
* They break into a summer home, during the off season, to rob the place.
* Hawely is shot fleeing the scene
* They find cover somewhere and Jove extracts the bullet
Chapter 4 - “The Widows”
* After Hawley’s triumph at the Greasy Pole, he is no longer shunned. Women start to bring food over to the house.
* Some are true widows, some are ‘fishing widows’, with husband off on long catches
* Hawley has become a regular at the Flying Jib bar, and hangs out with Strand and Fisk
* Hawley is now also accepted at the daily market
* Loo, meanwhile, is struggling with anger.
* The taste of tangy rust fills Loo’s mouth when she’s ready to hit someone. (p. 49; PB)
* Loo is fighting with the girls at school. Gunderson threatens her with expulsion, so Loo turns her anger towards the parade of widows instead.
* Marshall and his mum, Mary Titus, show up at Loo’s. Mary has a petition and is against the commercial overfishing going on
* Mary sends Marshall up the street, but comes into Loo’s home. She pours Loo wine and they drink and talk.
* Mary sees the shrine to Lily in the bathroom and laughs.
* Loo, upset by the laughing, pushes Mary - who falls back and cracks her head on the tub
Hawley arrives home to this scene
Chapter 5 - “Bullet Number Two”
* Hawley, now 25yo, has a car, his guns, and $7K cash - on the road in Arizona
* He stops at a motel for the night, gets an uneasy feeling about two men in the motel office/backroom
* Young woman and her baby locked out of their neighbouring room. Hawley tries to help, but no one is around. “Amy” ends up staying in Hawley’s room
* During the night, the 2 men seem to be looking for Amy. A gunfight ensues. The two men are killed and Hawley is wounded.
* Amy takes Hawely to a doctor on a nearby reservation. She has seen his container holding the $7K in cash.
Chapter 6 - “Dogtown”
* Loo is now 16yo, and they’ve been in Olympus for 4 years. She’s just had her 16th birthday, where they went to the fair and Loo chose to go on the Galaxy Round Up. She pukes afterwards. Hawley gets upset that that carney was flirting with Loo. Loo feels empowered as she realizes she drew the carney’s attention. Hawley, meanwhile, checks for his gun, reminding them it is always on him.
* Though they are settled in, and Hawely is managing, Loo is still avoided/ignored
* Marshall is now Loo’s lab partner in biology class and they seem to get along
* Marshall invites Loo to a party in the woods
* On the night of the party, Loo rides her bike to Dogtown and follows the map to the party location, getting a little lost along the way
* There are lots of engraved stones, “save”; “truth”’ “work”; “loyalty”
* Marshall’s favorite stone says “Never Try. Never Win”
* Marshall kisses Loo
* The police arrive to breakup the party.
* Loo gets away and hides in the woods. She then goes to Mabel Ridge’s house.
* Mabel is dying lots of yarn. She brings out a box of Lily’s possessions, after Loo asks if there is anything of her mother’s around.
* Mabel refuses to let Loo have a photo, but Loo takes a lace glove.
* Mabel give Loo the keys to a Firebird to drive home… never asking whether Loo can drive/has a license (she doesn’t)
* Loo makes it home; parks the car down the road.
* Hawley has been waiting up -- he doesn’t get mad, just wants to know that Loo is okay.
Discussion Points and Questions
Please know -- the following points are provided to encourage our discussion, but should not be limiting for you in any way. Feel free to post your own questions and comments!! Hearing thoughts from all readers will help add to the experience for all of us!!
- This novel has an interesting structure as chapters jump between the current time and Hawley’s past. As well, years may have gone by (Hawley goes from 16 to 25; Loo goes from 12 to 16). Does this style of storytelling work for you? How are you finding the story, so far?
- The novel opens with a gun lesson for 12yo Loo. Is this a bold statement from Hannah Tinti, about what’s to come? What sort of impression does this give you at the very beginning of the story? Do you feel it is unusual for Hawley to own several guns, and strange that he would teach his 12yo how to shoot?
- We know from reading the table of contents that alternating chapters are titled for bullets #1 through #12. And we are given a glimpse of Hawley’s scars in the Greasy Pole chapter. After we read about Bullet Number One and Bullet Number Two, how did you feel?
- Hawley has been providing Loo a different sort of life, until they settle in Olympus. How do you feel about their father-daughter relationship at this point? Do you feel Hawley is doing the best he can? (Is anyone else wondering where his money is coming from?)
- Why do you think Hawley chose to finally settle in Lily’s hometown? How is Lily’s absence adding to the story for you? Do you think Hawley and Loo have been coping well with Lily’s death?
- Loo really struggles with her anger, and acting out on her impulses for violence. We aren’t given a lot of information yet… so what do you think is causing Loo such distress? Do you think Loo acted out in such ways before they settled more long-term in Olympus?
- Do you remember being the ages of Loo in this early part of the book (ages 12 through 16)? Does it feel like Tinti has done a good job capturing what things could be like for someone this age?
- We meet several secondary characters -- do you feel they have a strong presence in the novel? Do you feel any of these characters are, or will be, important to Loo as the story progresses?
- When Loo goes to the party in Dogtown, we hear about all the carved stones -- what did you think about this, and why do you think they are important to the story (if they are important to the story)?
- Which moment, scene, or quote stood out for you in this first section of reading? Are you keen to read on, to find out where this is all going?
I can't wait to hear your thoughts about what we've read so far -- and I hope this read has been going really well for you all.