DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

What do you know about Hurricane Katrina's impact on New Orleans? Do you remember your reaction when you learned about what had happened? How does this story compare and contrast with what you know about Hurricane Katrina?
Why do you think this is an important novel? What messages do you think Paul Volponi was trying to get across through this story?
If you had to take refuge in the Superdome like Miles does, what would you bring with you and why?
What are some of the factors that contribute to the situation becoming so terrible in the Superdome? Could anything have been done to make things better for the people inside?
Describe the character of Cyrus and explain how he is affected by his experiences inside the Superdome. Why do you think Paul Volponi included Cyrus in the novel and why do you think he had Cyrus die?
When Miles first meets Cain in the Superdome, how would you describe their relationship? How does Miles's impression of Cain change over the course of their time in the Superdome? Do you feel that Cain deserves what happened to him?
Compare the ways in which Captain Hancock and Sergeant Scobie interact with people taking refuge in the Superdome. Why do you think the nature of their interactions is so different?
Miles is passionately dedicated to football while his father is similarly immersed in the world of jazz music. What do foot­ ball and music mean to Miles and his father, respectively? How do these interests help the characters define themselves and others? Do you feel that the hobbies you take part in help de­fine who you are?
Describe Miles's relationship with his father. How do Miles and his father change throughout the novel? How does their rela­tionship change as a result?
Each chapter begins with a verse of the song "When the Saints Go Marching In." What relevance do these lyrics have for each chapter? Why do you think Paul Volponi chose to feature this song so prominently in the book?
What part or parts of the story are turning points for Miles? Describe the impact of these situations on him.
In the epilogue, Miles says that what happened was too important "to give a free pass to anyone who helped cause it." Who helped cause what happened to Miles, his family, and others who were in the Superdome? What could have been done be­ fore Hurricane Katrina to prevent things from getting so bad?
If you met Miles today, what would you say to him? What would you ask him?
Picture Miles ten years after Hurricane Katrina. What is he do­ing? Where is he? What is important to him?
There are many instances of despair and many instances of selflessness in the story. Which held the most meaning for you?
What role does race have in the story? What roles do wealth and class have?
What does this novel say about humanity and people's relation­ships with each other? Do you think that there is ultimately a positive or negative message?
What defines a hero? Are there any heroes in this novel? Who would you say is a hero and what makes them heroic? Would you consider anyone you know to be a hero?