Spoiler alert! The Reader’s Guide is intended for those who have already read the book. Don’t read the guide until you have read the book!
1 – Despite his troubles, Vladimir Borodin (Volodya to his friends) has a high opinion of himself at the beginning of the book. Do you think he changes? If so, how?
2 – Raisa Goldman seems to continually betray the men who love her, yet she remains a sympathetic character. How does she engage our sympathies?
3 – “Hockey was a beautiful game, well worth the risk.” Pete thinks this to himself when Natalie seems worried about the possibility of injuries. What does hockey mean to Pete? Later, he contemplates giving up hockey in order to escape the Mafiya. Has he changed?
4 – Pete seems fixated on the idea of justice, which he expects to experience in America. Does he betray his own principles in failing to go to the police when the Mafiya begins to harass him?
5 – How do you see Volodya – is he a villain or a hero?
6 – How does Pete’s loss of his parents, particularly his father, drive his actions?
7 – Jim Frazier is a minor character, but he engages nearly every character in the book. Do you think he creates the action of the plot, or is just carried along by it?
8 – What place do the orphans hold in the story?
7 – One of the novel’s themes is the struggle of the individual to maintain his integrity against malign forces. How does this theme play out in the lives of the various characters?
8 – Natalie might be seen as a passive character if she did not redeem herself with certain actions. What are these?
9 – Is Oxanov a typical villain?
10 – Do you think that Pete finds what he is looking for in America?