Son of a Gun Cover
Son of a Gun

1. The author’s mother, Debbie St. Germain, tried on many different roles in her life: soldier, small-­town businesswoman, “hippie” traveling the country by trailer. What do you think she was searching for? Did she remind you of anyone you know?

2. What did you know about Tombstone, Arizona, before reading this book? What do you think it would be like to grow up in a place that is best known for a gunfight? What is your hometown known for?

3. What did you think about the author’s relationship with the men in his life: his father, his mother’s boyfriends, his uncle Tom? What do you think it is like for a boy to grow up without a steady male figure to depend on?

4. Why do you think the author chose to tell Wyatt Earp’s story alongside his own? Did you appreciate learning the history behind the legend of the Gunfight at the O.K. ­Corral?

5. The author writes that for years he “denied my mother, lied about her death, kept her pictures in boxes, tried not to think of her.” What do you think changed that led him to need to tell his story and hers? Have you ever found yourself confronting something from the past that you’d been trying to ignore?

6. Did it surprise you that the author owns guns in his present life? Why or why not?

7. From an early age, books and reading were important to the author. Why do you think that was? What role did books play in your childhood?

8. Discuss the author’s depiction of the harsh landscape of Arizona. Have you ever spent time in a desert climate?

9. This memoir takes on large subjects: gun violence, violence against women, and issues of class in America. While you were reading, did your mind go to these big topics or were you concentrating on the story of this one family? Did the book affect the way you feel about any of these issues?

10. Near the end of the book the author writes, “There are no clues left, no mystery to solve. I know what happened. I just don’t know why.” Do you think closure is possible without full understanding? How long has it taken you to heal from a loss in your own life?