Discussion Questions for The Father’s Son

Hopefully, you have enjoyed reading The Father’s Son. If you are part of a book discussion group, below are some suggested questions to facilitate discussions. If your group has some good questions you would like to share or if you have any questions at all for the author, please feel free to email Jim at jimsanobc79@gmail.com.

  1. What were your initial reactions to the main characters? Did your perspective or opinion of them change during the course of the novel?


  2. David seems to have a life any man in is prime would want, but did you find something missing? What were the coping mechanisms he was displaying and why?


  3. What were your thoughts about Jillian and how real people may be the unintended casualty of our approach to relationships with them?


  4. The “Poet of the Dunes,” Harry Kemp wrote, “It is the unexpected thing that brings life to the soul.” Tom was an unexpected encounter for David. What was your impression of Tom and why do you think David was drawn to the relationship?


  5. What did you think of David’s secretary, Izzie, her relationship with David, and her life compared to his? Do you believe people placed in our lives for a reason?


  6. Kevin Walsh is haunted by his Sept 11th experience and regrets about his decisions and priorities in life. What role do you feel that Kevin played in David’s personal journey?


  7. Jack Carusso was fired by David because he betrayed his trust and was disloyal. Why was David’s reaction to this employee’s broken trust so swift and decisive? What impact do you think broken trust for a young boy can have on his life as an adult?


  8. What where your initial reactions to David’s relationship to his ex-wife, Kathleen, and children, Amy and James? Why do you think he had pushed them out of his life? Despite the pain, how did Kathleen treat David?


  9. Why did David react so sharply to the revelation of Tom’s occupation? Why do you think he pulled back from his relationship with Jillian and what does he do to cope with the confusing situation?


  10. What did you think of the pub debates as a vehicle for David to hear and think about things he hadn’t really pondered? What did you think of Tom’s approach the debates?


  11. What did you think of David’s early relationship with Kathleen and what happened? What impact the separation have on Kathleen and the children?


  12. At one point, David ponders his understanding and changing ideas of what friendship really was. How did Tom make David begin to see true friendship in a new light?


  13. David begins to think back on his life as a child and with his family. How did it differ with his negative feelings and estranged relationships with each member (Gianni, Annie, Jimmy, Bobby, and Abbie)? How do you think that impacted David’s ability to engage in close relationships?


  14. What impact did David’s encounter watching Tom at the cemetery and Tom’s eventual opening up about his painful story and relationship as a young man with Corlie have on David? Why was the story of The Prodigal Son an important one for both Tom and David?


  15. David feels he can trust Tom with his own traumatic story of his childhood. What was your reaction to David’s story? Did it make you view him differently?


  16. What was your reaction to the revelation that David’s father was alive? What do you think the conflicting feelings were for David about what he should do?


  17. What did you think of Angelo, his relationship with Gianni, and his role in David’s journey? What was the impact of Dante’s Divine Comedy on Angelo?


  18. Tom discusses the true meaning of marriage as designed and intended by God and of the selfless nature of true love. What is David’s reaction to finding out that Kathleen believes they are still married and does it change your view on Church teachings?


  19. Tom discusses with David how people will develop coping mechanisms to protect themselves as children but how these adaptations often turn into mal-adaptations in our adulthood. How has this manifested itself in David’s life?


  20. When David makes a proposal to Kathleen to get back together as husband and wife, why does she hesitate? Why was David making the offer and what did Kathleen need to know?


  21. Tom uses the image of the Rose Window to help David set a well-ordered and healthier sense of priorities in his life. How does this image help you when thinking about priorities in your own life?


  22. David makes a request to Tom to become Catholic. What is the motivation for David and what is Tom’s concern? How does he use the story of “sine cera” to express that concern?


  23. David wants Tom to be his counselor to address the things he needs to work through in his life that are keeping him from being the man he wants to be and having authentic relationships in his life. Is having a friend as your counselor a good idea? What are the risks and benefits?


  24. Tom knows that David will need to experience discomfort (affect tolerance) to make any progress and often needs to push to uncomfortable places. What were your thoughts and feelings as David is pushed to the darkest places he has feared most? What was his greatest fear and how did he survive facing it head on?


  25. Tom teaches David many things about the Catholic Faith and the Church that were different than David had ever heard before. What areas of faith did they discuss that struck you the most? Why did David say that his counseling sessions and his faith classes were very much about the same thing?


  26. How did Gianni deal with the inevitability of his health situation? What was his focus? How did David feel and what happened to him during the process? What did Kathleen see in David now?


  27. Did you like the story and what were your favorite parts? Did the book impact your opinion, perspective, or feelings about anything? What resonated most with you personally in either a positive or negative way? Why?


  28. What was the significance of the title?