“The Eagle Tree is a gorgeously written novel that features one of the most accurate, finely drawn and memorable autistic protagonists in literature. Credible, authentic, powerful. A must-read.”–– Steve Silberman, New York Times bestselling author of NeuroTribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity.
Discussion Questions for readers:
1. How is March Wong, the main character, different in his perceptions from you? How would March describe these differences?
2. The main character, March Wong, is entranced by a tree in the first paragraph of the story. Why does the author introduce this obsession so early in the story?
3. What is the relationship between the main character’s parents? How do we know about this relationship?
4. How reliable a narrator is March Wong? Are there critical pieces of information that are left out of the story? How is this information communicated to the reader?
5. If your family were friends with March Wong’s family, what might you or your children think of March? What would your interactions be like with him on a daily basis?
6. Which characters serve as mentors to March? Which characters see themselves as helping March? Which ones are seen by March in that capacity? Is there a difference in perception?
7. The author has stated that the story is a “Romance,” and has talked about romance novels as a model for this story. If the story is a romance, then who are the “lovers” in this romance and who do they love?
8. To continue the romantic theme, many romances involve complications that separate potential lovers. What are the complications in the book?
9. Do other characters see these events or activities as complications, or as necessary parts of March’s experience in the world?
10. The author has stated that he does not want to characterize the main character as “autistic”. Why would that be the case? What does the author gain from this position? What does the book gain or lose?
11. What role does the work and writings of Annie Dillard play in the story?
12. Christianity and theological perspectives inform the story in the book. How does March’s perspective in the book differ from a “standard” perspective on Christianity? How is his perspective different?
13. The book is set in Olympia Washington. What critical information do you learn from this book about the area of Olympia? What important information about Olympia does March not share with you?
14. At the beginning of the book, March pointedly refuses to use metaphors or symbolic language to describe events in the book. By the end of the book, March is using metaphorical language in different situations to describe events. Why is this?
THE EAGLE TREE will appeal to readers who enjoyed the award-winning CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHT-TIME or Jim Lynch’s THE HIGHEST TIDE, which is also set in March’s—and the author’s—hometown of Olympia, Washington.