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Monday, September 20, 2010

Await Your Reply Discussion Questions

This afternoon my group discussed Await Your Reply by Dan Chaon. I will post the notes of our discussion in the next few days, but in the meantime, I thought I would post the discussion questions I created for this title.

I have to say, I was quite surprised that there were not ones available from the publisher. That being said, I really enjoyed creating these questions. Feel free to use them for your group. If you want to know more about Await Your Reply, click here and see what I had to say about it when I read it for the first time back in January.

Here are my questions:

Await Your Reply by Dan Chaon
Discussion Questions

  1. Await Your Reply is written in a very deliberate style with 3 separate storylines, told in 3 separate sections. Did this style enhance the story for you? Did it take anything away?
  1. Await Your Reply is an example of psychological suspense. The story tries to unsettle you, the reader. How does Chaon achieve this atmosphere of uneasiness? As a reading experience, did you enjoy it? What other books or films does this novel remind you of.
  1. One of the main themes of this novel is the question of identity. What makes up a person’s identity? Is identity as fluid as Hayden believes? After reading the book and seeing how Hayden’s story ends, what do you think Chaon’s opinion on identity is?
  1. Miles is extremely loyal to Hayden, Lucy is loyal to “George,” and Ryan is loyal to Jay despite warning signs that they should be more wary. How do issues of loyalty and betrayal play out in this book? What is Chaon saying about loyalty? Do you agree?
  1. Await Your Reply is disturbing and unsettling, yet, the sympathetic characters do not meet a bad end themselves and the main antagonist does “get what he deserves.” That being said, overall did you find this book uplifting, depressing, or neither?
  1. “Hayden used to be obsessed with orphans,” Miles remembers in Cahpter 16. This novel is filled with characters who have lost parents. Why is the loss of a parent, being an orphan, of such interest to Hayden? How does it fit with the overall themes of the book?
  1. What were the strengths and weaknesses of Await Your Reply as you see them?
  1. Did you feel the characters were well-developed? What about Hayden? Since he constantly changes his identity and uses parts of the identity of others, did you feel like you knew and understood him by the book’s conclusion or are you still guessing? Who were your favorite characters?
  1. Did you enjoy the “ride” Chaon takes you in this psychological thriller? Were you happy with the conclusion? What was your favorite part?
  1. This book takes place in a lot of exotic and just plain odd locations. What did you make of the various settings? Did you feel they were central to the plot? Did they help enhance the story and its main themes for you, or were they a distraction?
  1. What do you think of the time line of this novel? Have you worked out which story happened when? Does it matter if it is all set straight in your mind at the end or is it okay to still be a bit uncertain? What are the author’s intentions at the end?
  1. When did you “get it?” what was the most revealing scene for you in terms of figuring out Chaon’s big twist in his storytelling?
  1. Was this story believable? Chaon goes out of his way to put enough detail in the story to explain how Hayden steals people’s identity to make it believable, yet while in Canada, Miles questions how Hayden could do all of bad things people think he has done? The brother he knows is no criminal mastermind.
  2. What do you think will happen to Lucy? Miles? Ryan? 


Dan Chaon said...

Hi, Becky, Thanks for your great support of this book, and thanks for coming up with great questions. I wanted to let you know that the paperback edition includes a reader's guide with discussion questions as well.

--Dan Chaon

Becky said...

Thanks for letting me know, although I could not find them on the publisher's web site.

I will be posting the notes from our discussion in the next few days. You should check back to see what my group of "mature women" (their words) had to say.

Await Your Reply is going to make my list of the best books I read this year...and I finished it in January. Thanks for writing it.