Rules for Becoming a Legend Cover
Rules for Becoming a Legend

1. At the onset of the novel, protagonist Jimmy Kirkus repeatedly hurls himself into the brick wall of his high school gymnasium until he collapses unconsciously—the incident for which he’s nicknamed “Kamikaze.” In what ways does this scene shape the rest of the novel?

2. Rules for Becoming a Legend follows three generations of Kirkus men—grandfather “Flying Finn,” father Todd “Freight Train” Kirkus, and sons Jimmy and Dex. How do their lives mirror each other? And how do they differ?

3. Paralleling the Kirkus’s story is that of the Bergs. How are the two families intertwined? Why do their familial circumstances lead to different results?

4. Genny Mori, Jimmy and Dex’s mother, is the daughter of the only Japanese family in a predominantly white town. How does race affect her and the rest of the family’s experience in Columbia City?

5. After their daughter Suzie’s death, Todd and Genny cope with the tragic loss in radically different ways. In what ways do they separately grieve and how do their choices ultimately affect the trajectory of Jimmy and Dex’s lives?

6. How does the author use mythology to frame the book? What does he indicate about legends and their role in society?

7. The novel is set a small coastal town full of gossips and gloomy weather. How is the Columbia City an influential part of the story? How would the story change if it were set in a different place?

8. In a poignant passage between father and sons, Todd tells Jimmy and Dex an urban legend about a sand toad that lives buried in the Oregon coastline. What’s the symbolic significance of this tale?

9. Jimmy and his father both have a shot at glory. How do Jimmy’s and his father’s experiences with fame differ? Why does Todd initially try to keep Jimmy from playing basketball?

10. The ending subtly suggests that Jimmy “Kamikaze” Kirkus quits basketball altogether after leading the Fighting Fisherman to the 6A state title. Do you think he made the right decision to leave the game? What’s the significance of his legend living on?