This reading group guide for
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The Falconer includes an introduction, discussion questions, and ideas for enhancing your book club. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.Introduction New York, 1993.
Seventeen-year-old Lucy Adler, a street-smart, trash-talking baller, is often the only girl on the public courts. Lucy’s inner life is a contradiction. She’s by turns quixotic and cynical, insecure and self-possessed. Despite herself, she is in unrequited love with her best friend and pickup teammate Percy, scion of a prominent New York family who insists he wishes to resist his upper-crust fate.
As Lucy navigates this relationship in all its youthful heartache and prepares for life in the broader world, she begins to question accepted notions of success, bristling against her own hunger for male approval and searching for an authentic way to live and love. She is drawn into the world of a pair of provocative female artists living in what remains of New York’s bohemia, but soon even their paradise begins to show cracks.
Told in vibrant, quicksilver prose, The Falconer
provides a vivid snapshot of the city’s youth as they grapple with privilege and the fading of radical hopes, and paints a captivating portrait of a young woman in the first flush of freedom.Topics & Questions for Discussion
1. In the first few pages, we are introduced to the protagonist as she plays basketball. Describe how the author uses this physical scene to bring us into Lucy’s inner world. What does the description illuminate about the experience of playing sports as a woman? What does basketball mean to Lucy in particular?
2. The third chapter begins with snapshots of the Lower East Side of the 1990s as Lucy perceives it. Does her description of the city remind you of the New York you know today? Why or why not? And how does this break in the narrative serve the larger story?
3. In that same chapter, Lucy tells Violet the story of how she got the white scar on her lip, a self-inflicted attempt to imitate the pretty scar that her classmate Lauren Moon got from a split lip. What does this revelation say about Lucy’s self-perception versus how she believes her peers see her? What do you make of Violet’s comment that even self-inflicted scars are earned?
4. Privilege plays an important role in the story and means something different for each character. Discuss what it means for Lucy, Percy, Alexis, and Violet; how it influences their choices and ways of being; and how being the children of Baby Boomers figures into all of this.
5. Why does Lucy admire the Falconer
statue? What is its significance?
6. After her makeover at Percy’s house, Lucy asks Brent’s girlfriend, Kim: “Do you ever think makeup is a signifier of our inferiority?” (p. 99). Examine their conversation. With whom do you agree, and why?
7. After being hit in the face at a basketball game, Lucy takes a moment to herself in the bathroom before leaving the gym (pp. 126–28). Why does she decide to leave?
8. Lucy and Percy’s dynamic changes over the course of one transformative night (pp. 140–51). Describe how the author presents the scene to us. What’s running through Lucy’s mind in this moment? How does Lucy’s perception of love and of Percy change?
9. Lucy spends New Year’s Eve with Alexis at a diner where they share their favorite moments of the past year. Alexis observes that “we’re both chasing a feeling of weightlessness” (p. 173). What do you think she means? What else does Lucy learn about her friend that night?
10. Examine Lucy and her mother’s frank conversation about motherhood (pp. 201–6). How does it pertain to today’s discussions about feminism, and how do generational differences play into their exchange?
11. Compare Lucy and Percy’s relationship at the beginning of the book to their relationship as it stands at the end. What has been lost, and what gained?
12. Trace Lucy’s character development throughout the book. What does she learn about herself and what she wants? How do you feel about the ending? What do you think Lucy’s future will be like?Enhance Your Book Club
1. New York comes alive in The Falconer
because Lucy relies on all five senses to describe her city. In your own words, try to describe your hometown or city as you perceive it.
2. Lucy’s observations are often full of musicality and precocious insight. Which lines stuck out to you the most?
3. How would you describe your own coming of age in comparison to Lucy’s? Lucy’s solace throughout the book is basketball. What was yours? Discuss.
4. Lucy is seen reading The Unbearable Lightness of Being
by Milan Kundera. Read this novel in your book club and discuss how it might relate to The Falconer