An Invitation to Reading Groups

I would like to extend an invitation to reading groups/book clubs across the country. Invite me to your group and I’ll be happy to participate in your discussion. I’m available to join your discussion either in person or via the telephone. (Reading groups should have a speakerphone.) You can arrange a date and time by e-mailing me at cjvalen@comcast.net.  I look forward to hearing from you.

Looking for discussion questions? Check out the questions below for White Tombs.These are only suggestions. You may have your own. If your book club comes up with any interesting and provocative discussion questions, please e-mail them to me.

  1. In what ways does Santana's Colombian past drive the plot of the story? For example, is there evidence in the text that his ethics and attitude as a police officer are tied to his childhood?
  2. How do Santana’s past experiences affect his view of religion and the Catholic Church?
  3. How does weather function as a plot construct in White Tombs? In what ways do weather events set the narrative tone? Move the plot forward? Foreshadow coming events? Act as outer manifestations of Santana's inner struggle?
  4. While eating dinner in Vallalodid, Mexico, Santana has a discussion about violence and people’s “nature” with Carlos Montoya, the Mexican detective. Montoya tells Santana that, “Violence is in all of us,” and, “We are all cut from the same scissors. The only thing that changes is the justification.” He uses the story of the frog and the scorpion to illustrate the point that it’s difficult to change one’s “nature”. Do you agree with Montoya? Why or why not?
  5. Revenge is a prominent theme in the novel. It’s Santana’s “demon” and what gets his “juices flowing in the morning.” Do you think Santana was justified in seeking revenge for his mother’s death? Why or why not? Is the drug lord, Alejandro Estrada, justified in seeking Santana’s death?
  6. Angelina Torres’ story is told in a chapter late in the book, and is the only part of the story told from another character’s point of view. What role(s) does her character play in the novel?
  7. What is the significance of the title, White Tombs?
  8. Which were the most memorable and/or visual scenes in the novel?
  9. What ideas or images stayed in your mind after reading the book?
  10. What was the most interesting bit of insight or information you gained from reading this story?