Someone to Blame Discussion Questions: by C.S Lakin


1. The obvious theme of Someone to Blame revolves around blame. But blame has many forms and nuances. Many of the characters in this book struggle with blame, and each struggle is different depending on the person and their personality and background. Talk about some of these characters and who they blame and why. For example, Zack is eager to blame Billy Thurber of blackmail and manipulation due to his own paranoia. His imagination and fear are what lead him to blame Billy for things Billy has not done. We often blame others for things they have not done because of our own insecurities.



2. Billy Thurber acts as a catalyst to the others around him. With each person he encounters, he triggers a reaction, which causes that person to suspect him. How do each of the following people react to Billy, leading them to conclude he is a bad person: Dottie, Jerry, Tomás, Matt, and Sheriff Huff.



3. The sheriff acts in part as the “Greek Chorus” in this book. His is the voice of reason; he asks the important ethical and moral questions throughout the story. He is the observer and concluder. Just what does he conclude about Billy Thurber throughout the book, and how does his opinion change over time?



4. Throughout the book Billy Thurber is seen and experienced through the eyes of others. Why does his behavior set others off? Huff ponders at one point how the way a person is raised will mold his character. He wonders if someone like Billy, raised with violence, would tend toward violence. And he observes how society will often reinforce such antisocial and violent behavior. How does grace, as shown by Irene, break this pattern?



5. One of the themes of the book deals with why God allows good people to suffer. What does Pastor Luis say to Irene about why were are put here on earth, and how does that tie in with the peace Irene finds at the end of the book after risking all to save Billy?



6. Irene reflects on how every little act we do can have huge repercussions. She wonders if someone had just said a kind word to her son Daniel he might not have taken his life. How, in her act of kindness toward Billy, did she unknowingly free him from a prison he had lived in most of his life?



7. The ocean is a motif used throughout the book. Irene ponders on how people in the world seem afloat, adrift, desperate for a lifeline, unable to clearly navigate through the icebergs unseen under the surface. What are some of the images and metaphors used in the book related to the sea, drowning, being adrift, and sinking?



8. Matt is quick to blame his son for the horrible tragedies that occur in the story. Irene tends to blame herself instead of others. Both blaming ourselves and blaming others can be hurtful and destructive. What leads Matt to feeling he is to blame for Daniel’s suicide? And how does this open the door to the beginning of reconciliation with God and healing?



9. Billy has been traumatized and is not even aware of how deeply the betrayal and lies run. But his encounters with Irene help trigger his buried memories, and, in effect, the truth he literally uncovers sets him free. The truth can often be painful, as we also see in Matt’s realization of his harsh treatment of Daniel. How can it, though, lead to healing?



10. In what ways does the theme of forgiveness come into play in the story? Think of all the different people who have to show forgiveness to others and to themselves.



11. Dottie, to me, represents the most dangerous attitude. This sweet, sassy old woman seems harmless. Yet, she is quick to judge and categorize Billy the moment he comes into the store. And when she reads about the death of Grizz, she’s quick to blame Billy without a second thought. She tells Tim she will believe whatever she wants, and she’s proud of it. How is this a dangerous and unchristian attitude we should beware of adopting?



12. Someone to Blame was meant to take the reader on a journey through blame. Only when the reader really learns the truth about Billy, his past, and the things he’s been through, does compassion and understanding come to the fore. Often we are quick to judge others by appearance, without taking the time to get to know them. How does this story about Billy show people are often the way they are because of hard circumstances? How might that understanding make us more compassionate and less quick to judge someone we don’t really know?




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