September BookClubz Pick: The Ancestor
Our final BookClubz pick this month got 4 stars from our partner, Union Square Review. Check out Lee Matthew Goldberg's post-reading discussion guide for The Ancestor below:
The quest for one’s identity plays a huge part in the novel. For Wyatt, who has amnesia, the struggle is remembering who he was. Which of the other characters are wrestling with who they are as well? Who succeeds in self-discovery by the end?
Wyatt begins the book as a hero, but slowly morphs into the villain. What are the instances where the reader begins to change their outlook? Do you still root for him, even as he inevitably lets the reader down? What does it mean for the main character to be an “anti-hero?”
The Ancestor begins and ends with a character trapped in ice. The idea of its characters in a stasis: Travis, Callie, Stu, Aylen, permeates through the novel. What are examples of this stasis throughout? Are any of them successful at breaking free?
The opening scene is a battle between Wyatt and a wolf. There are many battles fought throughout the novel. What are examples of these battles, and who winds up being the victor in these instances?
The majority of the book takes place in Laner, an isolated town in Alaska that is referred to as the “edge of the world?” How do the cold temperatures affect the different characters and what has drawn each of them to this far-away land?
In one chapter, Callie returns to her hometown of L.A. only to go rushing back to Alaska. What does she discover about herself during this break and what did she expect to find? How does it affect the reader to switch from freezing Alaska to warm-weather L.A. for a brief reprieve?
Talk about the relationship between Wyatt and Travis. If believed, they are ancestors to one another. There is genuine love and friendship, but also jealousy and hatred. Do you believe that Wyatt always knew how their relationship was going to end, and to some extent, do you believe that Travis has an inkling of their fate too?
The idea of ancestry fills the novel, not just with Wyatt and Travis, but with everyone. Speak about the familial relationships between Travis and the rest of his family: Stu, Cora, Papa Clifford, and Bobby who is deceased. How strong are their ties?
A third of the novel takes place during the 1890s during the Alaskan Gold Rush, a perilous journey for many who left behind their families with the hopes of a better future. Why does Wyatt leave his family? Is it simply for the gold, or is there something more he’s searching for? Does he find it at the end of that section?
The Native American reservation on the outskirts of town plays a big role. How do its inhabitants, Aylen, Tohopka, and Qaletaqa affect the lives of those in Laner and vice-versa?
Death is a major character itself. How does death affect the lives of the people in Laner? How does it change them? What can we learn about ourselves from dealing with loss? Not everyone makes it out of the book alive. Which of the deaths were the hardest to mourn?
Since the novel doesn’t end with everything explained, what do you think happens to the characters afterwards? Do Wyatt and Callie stay together without her realizing that he isn’t her husband? Does Travis unthaw and return to her? If there was a sequel what questions would you want answered and explored?