General Post

Discussion: Bring Her Home

Yay! It’s our very first Suspenseful Clues and Thrilling Reviews book club discussion! If you’re new to the blog, I’d like to extend a big, warm welcome. This month’s pick was Bring Her Home by David Bell, a suspenseful mystery surrounding the disappearance of two teenage girls and the havoc it wreaks on one widower in particular. If you missed it, you can find my review HERESam and I both were blown away by the detail and emotion laid bare in the narrative; even though I don’t have teenagers myself, I could feel what Bill was experiencing in the many ups and downs while searching for his daughter Summer. We’ve chosen to use the official book club questions provided via the publisher for this book, and I’m going to lay out what to expect below.

First, if you haven’t read the book yet, go ahead and stop here. There will be spoilers below and you can always join in at a later date once you’ve completed the novel. We won’t be closing these threads and would love to have you join in anytime you feel ready. With this being our very first month, we aren’t set on a format or formula for these discussions yet, so please bare with us as we try a few different ways of doing this. For the first month, we’ve decided to spread this out over two days; we will each host a post with 6 different questions as to not take up too much time for each reader and allow you the chance to visit both our blogs. We’ll answer a handful of questions and also be posting some blank as well; you are welcome to answer any of the questions you see in the comments below (dictating which number in your answer if possible) or feel free to post your own inspired comments and questions! Finally, David has generously offered up a copy of his successful previous novel Cemetery Girl to one lucky winner! To be considered for the giveaway, you must participate in the discussion via both blog posts, whether it be a thought you had on the book, an answer to a discussion question, etc. We have to keep it to US entrants only, but the discussion is open to everyone worldwide! We’ll be closing the giveaway Friday, August 18 at midnight, so make sure and leave your comments by then. Enough blabbing from me; let’s talk about the book!

ONE) Bill alludes to difficulties he had with Summer before she disappeared. Do you think this was typical teenage rebellion, or was it exacerbated by her mother’s death?

– This was a detail I thought extensively about while reading the story and I felt it was a bit of both. While yes, any young adult would have extensive struggles after losing a parent, and most fall into a rut of rebellion and acting out, I also felt she had a bit of personality that made her a leader and an influencer. We saw multiple examples in the book where she had taken the lead and encouraged others to resort to her level of behavior, some of which were before the loss of her mother. Would Summer have been a model adolescent if fate were different and Julia’s life hadn’t ended so abruptly? Probably not, but I do feel it played a role in defining who she became in the time following her mother’s death.

TWO) The reader learns that Bill once grabbed Summer, leading her to call the police. Do you think the police made the right decision when they chose not to press charges? Did finding this out about Bill make you feel differently about him?

– I found the scene where Bill grabbed Summer to be one of the most excruciating in the book. As a parent, I have experienced what he felt many times and can see it happening easily in a tense moment. While I feel the police made the right decision (based on the information provided in the narrative), I have to admit it did slightly change how I viewed Bill as a parent and a human in general. My view? I wanted to keep as open a mind as possible to what that family endured. Between Summer’s many manipulations and the grief Bill was working through, I felt what happened wasn’t something the law was required to intervene in. The extra lumps of guilt and fear seemed retribution enough; eventually a person has to stop punishing themselves for past transgressions. This scene and how the remainder of the book played out felt like an example of forgiveness and second chances at it’s finest.

THREE) Bill thinks of Adam as one of his closest friends. Why do you think Bill was so drawn to Adam?

– I love this question! I thought about Bill and Adam’s relationship quite frequently throughout the book, and I felt this was the classic case of a psychopath being exactly what they are- charismatic and manipulative. We see more of Adam’s true nature as the story progresses; it was eery and unnerving just how much he changes in those 400 pages. He appeared completely trustworthy and dependable in the beginning, but by the end of the story he’s completely broken and exposed for the monster he has become. Honestly though, I think a part of why Bill was so drawn to Adam is because we all tend to be drawn to those who appear to have all the qualities we lack. Adam was youthful and good looking in appearance, and seemed to be without many of the responsibilities Bill had. Add on the athletic talents and choice of women to date, and I could see why Bill would want to spend time with him and, in a sense, want to be him.

FOUR) Bill turns to his sister, Paige, in times of crisis, even though their relationship is sometimes contentious. Do you think their sibling relationship is typical? 

FIVE) Taylor has a difficult time turning over her daughter’s dental x-rays to the police. Do you understand why she hesitated to learn the truth?

SIX) Candy seems to imply that Summer was a bad influence on her daughter, Haley. Do you think this is true? Is it normal in a teenage friendship for one kid to be more of a leader than the other?

*Thanks so much for participating in this month’s discussion and please be sure to find the second half of the questions on Sam’s blog Clues and Reviews tomorrow! Best of luck to those entering the giveaway and I look forward to chatting with you below! ❤

17 thoughts on “Discussion: Bring Her Home”

  1. Hey everyone! Glad to join you.
    1) I think the struggles Bill had with Summer were fairly typical teenage rebellion. I’m sure that hers was somewhat exacerbated by her mother’s death, but nothing extreme. It would be so frustrating and difficult to deal with the loss of a mother during your teenage years.
    2) I did agree with the police decision on Bill grabbing Summer’s harm. It’s definitely a tough call because you never really know, but it seemed very real to me. As a parent of teens, I can totally understand the level of frustration that can incur when they are defiant.
    3) Adam was super strange. I guess I am a bit surprised that Bill was drawn to him, especially when he ended up questioning his wife’s faithfulness. I guess Adam’s personality and helpfulness made it hard to turn away.
    4) I loved Bill’s relationship with Paige. It seemed very sincere and I loved Paige. Sometimes, Bill’s actions annoyed me, but this relationship really worked for me. I’m not sure if it’s typical because I don’t have siblings.
    5) Theoretically, I understood Taylor’s reluctance to turn over the dental records, but I would just have to know. I couldn’t stay in limbo. Her reluctance made me question her sincerity.
    6) I really don’t think Summer was a bad influence. I think it’s 100% normal for one teen to be more of a leader than the other. Sometimes, this person may be a bad influence but definitely not always.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hey!!!

    ONE) I think the challenges Bill went through with summer were a bit of both. I was a teenage girl once and I know that I was no peach to live with. I joke that I don’t know how my parents survived me. I also think that as a teenage girl it must be extra challenging growing up without a mom, adding to the challenges a Dad would face in parenting.

    TWO) I am on the fence with this one. I cringed during this part also, but not enough to sway me into thinking he was guilty. Again, parenting is hard and I cannot imagine the weight of doing it alone. There are zero excuses for behaving that way with your child despite how the parent might be suffering but I can easily see him being pushed past the breaking point.

    THREE) I pegged Adam as guilty the moment I met him in the book. I think Bill was drawn to him for a lot of the same reasons you mentioned here. Adam was younger and according to Bill’s wife and sister very attractive and lacked responsibilities, these are all things that might make Bill envious and also want to associate with him. Plus, he was a neighbor and we tend to lean on them due to proximity as well.

    FOUR) I have four older brothers and while we are each close in different ways, growing up there was lots of tension, obviously now that we are all older that has faded away. I think Bill is left with no one, no parents, no spouse and possibly no longer his child either. He is alone and needs someone and she wants to be there for him and I enjoyed seeing them repair their relationship.

    FIVE) I certainly understand Taylor’s reluctance to turn over the dental records. Despite wanting the truth and wanting answers and closure the finality of truly knowing your child is gone is not something any parents wants to face.

    SIX) I do think Candy’s assessment that Summer was a bad influence on her daughter could absolutely be a possibility. While I firmly believe that we are each responsible for our own actions and we must own up to them I also know that certain individuals are drawn to more leader roles and others are more of a follower. Not all leaders lead poorly but it’s certainly a realistic option.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I agree, this was a great character study. As a parent reading this book through the various stages of grief and loss really hit home for me. As you know, this was my first Davis Bell novel but I loved it so much I am looking forward to reading more!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I am going and just talk about everything because this is how I roll! For the first question, I know we talked about this a little bit while we were reading Chels. I thought for sure it was exacerbated by her mother’s death. She seemed to be pretty strong as a character and, like you, I don’t think she would have been perfect but I absolutely think that if Julia had been alive maybe the difficulty Bill was having would have at least felt different since it wouldn’t have been all on him. As for the second question, I didn’t feel like this part of the story was crazy relevant. I get how it helped the story but it felt a little random for me. I was pretty unaffected probably because I was so confused to why it went this way. The third question has me riled up! I HATE ADAM. What a weirdo. I felt the whole time like he was unreliable and narcissistic. Even when I knew I was supposed to trust him I totally did not.

    I felt like Bill and Paige had a pretty typical relationship. I have two brothers and I know that at times it feels contentious because it just can. There is no real threat in harming the relationship because, when push comes to shove, you know that there is a bond there that cannot be broken.

    I absolutely think that in a teenage friendship it is very common for there to be a leader and more of a follower. As a teacher, I see this all the time. There is always someone who sort of becomes the “pack leader” and then the rest fall in line; mind you, this can change based on what is happening and the hierarchy changes but it didn’t surprise me that there was this type of relationship explored in the book.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. TWO) The reader learns that Bill once grabbed Summer, leading her to call the police. Do you think the police made the right decision when they chose not to press charges? Did finding this out about Bill make you feel differently about him?

    I did agree with their decision, probably because I was so sympathetic towards Bill. I think characterization is Bell’s strong suit, he always crafts characters that are so relatable and realistic, therefore making me super emphatic towards them. I get how you can be SO extremely frustrated with your kids, parenting is amazingly difficult, Hell my kids are little Still and I get frustrated all of the time. I don’t wanna think about how much worse it will get as they get older, smarter and more defiant. The only thing that changed for me upon finding this out what that Bill became even more humanized to me. It showed he’s flawed and he’s messed up before, made mistakes but that doesn’t change the fact that he loves his daughter fiercely.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. That is so on point! It is so frustrating to not be able to make someone do something that you know is right- for Bill, he sees Summer going on a wonky path and then next thing you know, he is trying to help and things get out of control.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Hey hey hey ladies!

    ONE) Bill alludes to difficulties he had with Summer before she disappeared. Do you think this was typical teenage rebellion, or was it exacerbated by her mother’s death?

    I think it was a combination of the two. Losing a parent would always be awful but to be a kid and lose your mom? I don’t think the timing could be any worse. The teenage years are so rough, I try and ignore the fact that one day I’ll have three teenagers at the same time! 😱 I have to agree with you Chels, I think Summer would’ve definitely still had some teenage rebellion stuff going on but her mom dying for sure impacted her behavior.

    Liked by 2 people

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