Discussion Questions for Book Clubs

Below are some questions that book clubs might find useful when discussing Haymaker. If you'd prefer a PDF of the questions that you can download and print, just click here.


1.     Haymaker obviously centers around political ideas and political conflicts. Would you say that it’s an especially “political book”? Does the author seem to be arguing on behalf of any particular political ideology?

2.     Which characters do you most relate to or empathize with? What traits or events bring these particular characters to life for you?

3.     In what ways is the entire town of Haymaker a kind of character? In what ways does it seem like other small American towns you’re familiar with (real or fictional), and in what ways does it seem especially unique?

4.     When people first meet Roosevelt they seem unsure what to make of him, though he has the ability to put folks at ease. Why do people put their trust in him? Does his decision at the end of the novel represent a breach of that trust?

5.     Why is Donnie so angry? What makes him so fiercely defensive of his town? Is his passion admirable or awful?

6.     Examine the relationship between Ash and Donnie. In what ways do both the bonds and the tensions between them help complement their personalities?

7.     Two of Haymaker’s civic leaders, Clara and Brenda, find themselves torn between the responsibilities of their personal lives and their public lives. How do their various responsibilities define them? Do they manage to find balance, or does one side overrun the other?

8.     For Josef, the notion of “independence” is central to his political beliefs. But in what other ways is Josef an independent? As he works toward his goals, how does his independence either serve him well or cost him?

9.     At the end of the novel Ash quotes Donnie, claiming that the people who stayed in Haymaker were the “winners” and the ones who left were the “losers.” Do you agree? In what ways are the main characters better or worse off by the end of the story compared to the beginning?

10.  By the end of the novel, is Haymaker still essentially the same town it always was or has it fundamentally changed? If those who moved away were to return ten or so years later, would they find their fears were overblown, or would the town feel unrecognizable?