Bret Anthony Johnston is the author of the award-winning Corpus Christi: Stories. This month, his debut novel, Remember Me Like This, hits bookshelves and this is one you must read! This gripping novel has the pace of a thriller but the nuanced characterization and deep empathy of some of the literary canon’s most beloved novels. It introduces Bret Anthony Johnston as one of the most gifted storytellers writing today.
Random House Reader’s Circle has exclusive book club discussion questions to share with you today! If you and your book club are planning a discussion of this novel, be sure to take a look at the below! And, stay up to date with the author on his Facebook page.
Questions and Topics for Discussion:
1. Remember Me Like This is rendered through the perspectives of various characters, but never Justin’s. Why do you think Johnston decided not to include his point-of-view? What did the alternating perspectives do for the story?
2. The novel opens with a body floating facedown in the ship channel, then flashes back and shows the events that led up to the discovery. Which character did you think was in the water at first and why? Did your feelings change throughout the book?
3. Johnston alludes to the abuse that Justin endured during his “away life,” but a definitive answer of what he suffered is never offered. Why would he leave that information out?
4. The novel takes place over a hot summer in South Texas and Johnston asks the reader to pay a lot of attention to the heat and weather. How might these choices relate to the themes of the book?
5. What are the themes of Remember Me Like This?
6. Most of the characters have at least one significant secret in the novel. What role do secrets play in the book? Early in the novel, the reader learns that Cecil believes love can be shown through not disclosing what you know. Do you agree with him?
7. Are Eric and Laura good parents? Why or why not?
8. Each of the Campbells seeks different kinds of shelter in the book: Eric is involved in an extra-marital affair; Laura spends much of her time volunteering at Marine Lab; Griffin devotes most of his energy to skateboarding and Fiona; and Cecil retreats deeper into the grooves of his life. What do these shelters offer them? What do the shelters reveal about the characters? Do the shelters hold up?
9. Most of the novel takes place in Southport, a small coastal town, and on Mustang Island. Discuss the role of place in the story? Does the isolation of the landscape relate in any way to the characters? If so, how?
10. Which character do you identify with the most and why?
11. If you are a parent, which parent most resembles you in the novel?
12. Had Cecil’s plan worked, what do you think he would have done with Buford? Do you believe the story he told Eric about taking Buford into Mexico? Did he ever intend to include Eric in the plan? Why does he decide against including him?
13. Do you think Buford’s father was being honest with Cecil about just wanting one last day on the water with his family?
14. The novel ends with Eric imagining what might have happened to Buford. What do you think happened to Buford? Do you think Laura had anything to do with it?
15. Where you do you imagine each of the Campbells in a year? In five years? In ten?