READER’S GUIDE AND DISCUSSION QUESTIONS
The novel “The Blues Don’t Care” takes place on the Los Angeles homefront during World War II. While the war rages in the Pacific and European theaters the book gives us a glimpse of what’s happening back home, at least one slice of the homefront in the context of a mystery-crime novel. Here are some things to think about:
- What main ideas or themes does the author explore? Does the title give any hint as to what the story is about?
- In the book, the character of Bobby is exploring who he wants to be. He uses ‘B’ movie cowboy star Gene Autry’s code as a guide. Does it help Bobby? And do you think that code still works today?
- Bobby has to disguise who he really is in order to get a gig with Booker’s band. He also has to deal with issues of identity. Discuss how our attitudes as a society have changed.
- How would you have reacted if you were Diane, Bobby’s daughter, discovering things about him for the first time, when you had thought one way about him all your life?
- Did certain parts of the book make you uncomfortable? If so, why did you feel that way? Did this lead to a new understanding or awareness of some aspect of your life you might not have thought about before?
- Is it okay for an author to use offensive language from the era in which the story is set in order to accurately portray the times?
- Did the author’s note/trigger warning help you? Do you think trigger warnings are necessary?
- How well do you think the author built the world in the book? Do you think he portrayed Los Angeles in the 1940s realistically?
- How do the characters change or evolve throughout the course of the story? What events trigger such changes? How did Bobby change by the end of the story?
- How does Bobby navigate the masculine world of the 1940s? What problems does that cause him?
- What moral/ethical choices did the characters make? What did you think of those choices? How would you have chosen? Did Bobby make the right choices for himself?
- How does the setting figure as a character in the story?
- Does reading the book make you want to explore the history, music and/or movies of the 1940s?
- If you were casting a movie who would you cast in the roles of Bobby, Booker, Margaret, Sam, Leach and James Christmas?