1.What did you think of Carl Iverson initially? How did your opinion of him change as you got to know him?
2. At what point in the story did your opinion change about who killed Crystal Hagen?
3. Carl Iverson had a ‘dying declaration’. Do you believe that people tell the truth before they die? Why or why not?
4. Carl wanted Joe to tell him about his grandpa. Why do you think he wanted to know? What was his motive in finding out?
5. Did you know about the Innocence Project? Are there other resources out there for convicted prisoners?
6. Was there anything in the book that surprised you?
7. The book had many interesting characters. Which character did you like the most? Why? Who did you relate to?
8. Both Joe and Lila had issues and a difficult history. What did you think of them? Did you find that the flawed characters made them more relatable? Were you more empathetic to them? Did you think that it made them stronger?
9. What one trait was Joe’s best trait? What was his worst?
10. What did you think about Joe’s and Lila’s relationship? Do you think they are suited? What characteristics make them suitable?
11. The book had many themes, such as mental illness, the effects of trauma, alcoholism, addiction, brotherly love, guilt, to name a few. Which theme impacted you the most?
12. Joe’s mother Kathy Nelson was bi-polar and an alcoholic. Joe’s brother Jeremy Naylor was on the autism spectrum. How does Joe to deal with his family? What sort of relationship does he have with his mother? What does Joe think of his mother? What is Joe’s relationship like with his brother?
13. How does Joe’s family life influence and shape him? What was the tipping point in Joe’s life?
14. After reading The Life We Bury, who would you recommend it to?
Enhance Your Book Club:
Check out the Study Guide: The Life We Bury by Allen Eskens for summary and analysis of the book, and for a more in depth look to help with conversation starters.
Check out The Life We Bury book review!