Reading Guide, The Good Father
1. There are three narrators in The Good Father: Travis, Erin and Robin. Whose story is it? To which character did you feel most connected?
2. One of the central themes of The Good Father is “What makes a good parent?” Discuss how that theme plays out in the story with regard to each of the three central characters.
3. Another theme in the book is that of desperation and how it can drive people to do things they would never otherwise think of doing. Could you feel Travis’s mounting desperation? What events ultimately led to the choices he made? What other avenues were open to him?
4. Why do you think the author chose to open the story with a prologue in which Travis left Bella with Erin? Did the knowledge that this scene was coming increase or decrease the tension for you as you read?
5. Which character do you think had the greatest personal growth during the story and why?
6. Many people told Travis that he should allow Bella to be adopted. Do you think he made the right decision? Why or why not?
7. Travis had an excellent relationship with his own father. How do you think that played into his relationship with Bella? How did it impact his feelings about Robin’s father?
8. The relationship between Travis, Bella and Erin developed quickly in the coffee shop. Why do you think that happened? What was in that relationship for each of them, both at first as well as later?
9. Why do you think the author introduced the character of the barista, Nando, to the story? What purpose(s) did he serve?
10. What would you have done in Erin’s position if Travis left Bella with you? How might Erin have reacted differently if she hadn’t recently lost Carolyn? How did the fact that Erin lost a child play into the way she related to Bella?
11. Erin not only lost her daughter, but her friends and her husband as well—a husband she’d clearly loved and with whom she’d had a positive relationship. Are there examples you can think of from real life in which people grieve so differently that it damages their relationship?
12. Carolyn’s room nearly becomes a character in the story. Do you think this was intentional on the author’s part and how did it impact your experience as you read?
13. When Erin realizes she’s beginning to heal from the loss of her daughter, she worries “Does progress mean I was leaving Carolyn behind?” Can you understand that emotion? How has Erin’s fear of leaving Carolyn behind impacted her life?
14. Travis tells Erin that she’s a “jumper” while Michael is a “thinker.” Do you think that’s true and if so, how do we see those labels being played out during the story? Discuss the differences and similarities between Erin’s reliance on her support group and Michael’s creation of the game, Losing Carolyn?
15. Robin was taught to avoid conflict at all costs or risk her health. How did this shape the person she became? Discuss the ways this element of her upbringing led her straight into the arms of Dale and the Hendricks family. How did her need for “peace and calm” both help and hurt her?
16. Robin allowed herself to buy into her father’s suggestion that her baby “never happened.” Discuss her feelings toward that baby from the time she learned she was pregnant until she learned Travis had custody of her.
17. Robin was drawn to Alissa for a number of reasons. Explore the experiences from Robin’s past and present that led to her friendship with her future sister-in-law.
18. Do you think Alissa knew that Dale was paying Will off? Could there be more to Alissa and Will’s relationship than we’ve learned through Robin’s eyes?
19. Savannah is a complex character. Explore her motives in the different parts of the story.
20. How do you feel about the fact that Travis didn’t face charges for his role in the heist? Do you think he should have received some sort of punishment and if so, what form should that have taken? How would that have impacted his life and the lives of Robin and Bella?