Jess Wright is a book club fan and can meet with clubs in person if he is in your area of the USA. He lives in Louisville, Kentucky and travels often to Vermont, Seattle, and the mountains of Central Pennsylvania where A Stream to Follow takes place. Book club appearances can be arranged anywhere via Zoom.

A Stream to Follow:
Questions and Discussion Points for Book Clubs

  • Bruce Duncan, the main character in A Stream to Follow, and his brother, Glen, experienced PTSD after horrific trauma in WWII. What did they do after the war to cope with PTSD? What made it worse? What made it better?
  • What do you think the author meant to convey with the title, A Stream to Follow?
  • How did Bruce’s relationships with the two main female characters, Amelia and Sarah, influence his PTSD? How can human relationships impact PTSD?
  • Amelia and Sarah were ahead of their time in many ways. They were accomplished women who wanted to make their mark. What constraints did they encounter that have changed in the years since WWII? What hasn’t changed? Discuss the decisions that Amelia and Sarah made about their careers and families.
  • Viktor Frankl, a concentration camp survivor, talks about the need to find a sense of purpose in life in his influential book, Man’s Search for Meaning. In A Stream to Follow, Bruce, Amelia, and Sarah are trying to put meaningful life choices into action. Discuss how their sense of purpose defines their characters.
  • The post-war battles that Bruce encountered centered on helping workers at a silica plant. This industry was a mainstay of the local economy, yet its workers were being harmed. What moral and practical dilemmas did Bruce, the workers, and the plant manager face that still exist in our modern world?
  • What is the appeal of fly-fishing for Bruce and Amelia? Discuss fly-fishing or other pursuits that can promote reflection and solace.
  • Little was known about PTSD or how to treat it in the post-WWII era. How might Bruce and Glen have been treated for PTSD now?
  • Bruce’s brother, Glen, suffered from bipolar disorder. And his father may have had the same condition. Not only was mental illness not well understood in that era, it was also surrounded by stigma and secrecy. What has changed in the view of mental illness? I what ways is stigma for mental illness still a major problem?
  • Like Bruce and Glen, veterans of WWII often did not talk about the ravages of combat and the impact of wartime trauma on their lives. Do you think anyone you know may have suffered from trauma but spoke little or nothing about it? If so, how do you think it affected them?