Thursday, October 30, 2014

Some Discussion Questions on Ghost Horse by Thomas H. McNeely

Last week I posted a review of the novel Ghost Horse, by Thomas H. McNeely. Published this fall by a small, indie publishing house called Gival Press, Ghost Horse is a gripping and intense book about a young boy coming of age in 1970s Houston as his family falls apart. It is a compelling story that unsettled me at times, but I suspect will stay with me--and I recommended it for readers who love literary fiction and complex family stories. You can read my review here. I had the opportunity to read this novel through a blog tour at TLC Book Tours.

The author of Ghost Horse, Tom McNeely, was kind enough to stop by my blog and comment on my review. He left some discussion questions for readers of the novel, and I thought I would highlight them here. I do think that Ghost Horse would provide plenty of conversation topics for book clubs or reading groups, and I know from my own experience with book clubs that some thoughtful, guided questions can help generate deeper discussion among the group members. Here, then, are Tom's suggested questions:

Ghost Horse concerns a family in the 1970s which is breaking up in a divorce. How do you think divorce affects children in families? How do you think attitudes toward divorce have changed since the seventies? Do you think it is easier or harder for children of divorce now?

In Ghost Horse, three boys vie with each other to control a home-made movie that takes many shapes. How do you see children today using media to connect, and sometimes to harm each other, as in various cyber-bullying cases? Do you think children see themselves and their relationships differently because of their exposure to media today?

Ghost Horse explores the effects of class and racial tension in Houston, Texas, in the 1970s. How do you think attitudes toward race and class have changed in America since that time? Do you see a greater or lesser distance between races and classes now or then?

Thought-provoking questions, indeed, for a thought-provoking novel.

I'd like to add a few discussion questions of my own for readers of Ghost Horse. Here they are:

Children, of course, are greatly affected by their parents' attitudes towards other family members. They can overhear conversations they aren't meant to overhear, and misunderstand adult situations. As a parent, have you struggled with this? Have your children ever overheard a fight between you and your spouse, or a fight among other adult family members? Have you tried to temper your attitude toward other family members for the sake of your children?

On this same theme, children often mimic the actions of their parents. In Ghost Horse, do you think that both Buddy and Simon re-enact some of the actions of their fathers? How so?

What do you think Buddy will be like as an adult? How do you think the experiences related in the book will affect him as a father, if he chooses to have children? How can parents who have endured difficult childhoods leave those experiences behind in their own relationships with their children?

Please feel free to leave any comments, whether you've read Ghost Horse or not. And if you have read the novel, feel free to suggest additional discussion questions.


  1. I didn't read this book but I did read your review last week. This title was not on my radar before, but it is now. Looks like a worthwhile read and it's great that the author was nice enough to stop by your blog and leave some book club questions here. I think he must have been impressed by your review-- I know I was.

    1. Thanks, Rita! It is indeed a worthwhile read, although very, very intense at times. . . . and there would certainly be lots for a book club to talk about!

    2. Rita - Thank you very much for your reply. I hope you will consider reading Ghost Horse, and I would very much appreciate hearing your thoughts if you do. I wrote the book hoping to begin conversations such as the one Leila has so graciously agreed to host here on this site. Best, Tom McNeely