Breaking Her Fall
About the book:
As Tucker and Kat and everyone around them seek to repair the damages of that night, Breaking Her Fall charts their uncommonly difficult passage from despair to reconciliation and hope with extraordinary grace.
About the author:
STEPHEN GOODWIN is a professor of creative writing at George Mason University and the author of three previous books. Goodwin has also directed the literature program at the National Endowment for the Arts, and he served two terms as president of the PEN/Faulkner Foundation. He lives in Washington, D.C.
Q. In what way does Washington, D.C., form a meaningful backdrop for the novel? How do class hierarchies affect the plot? What observations does Tucker make about suburban versus commercial aspects of his community?
Q. Are money and sex equally powerful in Breaking Her Fall? In what way do finances influence Tucker’s power struggle with Kat’s mother?
Q. In your opinion, what motivated Kat’s actions at the party? Who appears to be ultimately responsible for what happened? How would you have responded to the late-night call from John Fogarty?
Q. How does Kat’s heartache compare to that of the adults in her world? Are her coping skills much different from theirs? Does Kat mirror or defy her parents’ example?
Q. How would you characterize Lily’s marriage? Why is Tucker more attracted to her than to Christine?
Q. Is Tucker’s relationship with Kat typical of most fathers and daughters? Does Tucker use a different approach in raising his son? Does Lily’s parenting style reflect gender distinctions in a child’s upbringing, or are these distinctions shaped more by environment?
Q. Discuss the concept of injury and harm as portrayed in this novel. What (or who) are the truly harmful forces in the characters’ lives? Do you consider Kat to be a victim of rape? What is the best way to ensure the sense of security Tucker craves?
Q. How do the novel’s characters define justice and morality? What seems to drive their sense of ethics?
Q. When Tucker went to Jed’s house, was he trying to rescue his daughter or control her (or both)? Will he ever be comfortable with the notion of his daughter’s sexuality?
Q. Why might the author have chosen oral sex as the basis for Kat’s upheaval rather than another form of sexual behavior? Do you define it as "real" sex?
Q. What is the significance of Lily’s father in Breaking Her Fall? Did he impart any of the same attitudes to Lily that Tucker tries to evoke in Kat? Does Tucker’s relationship to his own parents, particularly his mother, offer any insight into the generation by which he and Lily were raised?
Q. Do you perceive Jed as a villain or a victim? Do you predict any transformation in his father’s personality after this incident? Would Jed and Abby have been successful parents?
Q. How does that one night (along with its resolution) encapsulate Kat’s life with Tucker?
Q. How have attitudes toward dating and sex changed since you were Kat’s age? Why is fourteen a particularly charged age for girls?
Q. In what way does Kat break her father’s fall?