BKMT READING GUIDES

No.
27


 
Dramatic,
Addictive,
Interesting

57 reviews

The Life We Bury
by Allen Eskens

Published: 2014-10-14
Paperback : 303 pages
174 members reading this now
220 clubs reading this now
57 members have read this book
Recommended to book clubs by 54 of 57 members
College student Joe Talbert has the modest goal of completing a writing assignment for an English class. His task is to interview a stranger and write a brief biography of the person. With deadlines looming, Joe heads to a nearby nursing home to find a willing subject. There he meets Carl ...
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Introduction

College student Joe Talbert has the modest goal of completing a writing assignment for an English class. His task is to interview a stranger and write a brief biography of the person. With deadlines looming, Joe heads to a nearby nursing home to find a willing subject. There he meets Carl Iverson, and soon nothing in Joe's life is ever the same.

Carl is a dying Vietnam veteran--and a convicted murderer. With only a few months to live, he has been medically paroled to a nursing home, after spending thirty years in prison for the crimes of rape and murder.

As Joe writes about Carl's life, especially Carl's valor in Vietnam, he cannot reconcile the heroism of the soldier with the despicable acts of the convict. Joe, along with his skeptical female neighbor, throws himself into uncovering the truth, but he is hamstrung in his efforts by having to deal with his dangerously dysfunctional mother, the guilt of leaving his autistic brother vulnerable, and a haunting childhood memory. 

Thread by thread, Joe unravels the tapestry of Carl’s conviction. But as he and Lila dig deeper into the circumstances of the crime, the stakes grow higher. Will Joe discover the truth before it’s too late to escape the fallout?

Editorial Review

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Excerpt

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Discussion Questions

From the author:


How did you experience the book? Were you immediately drawn into the story—or did it take you a while? Did the book intrigue, amuse, disturb, alienate, irritate, or frighten you?

What aspects of the novel did the author draw from to come up with the title for The Life We Bury?

Which character, if any, did you identify with the most? Why?

Was there a particular scene that resonated with you or stayed with you after you finished the novel?

How did you feel about the character of Carl Iverson when he was first introduced?

Would you say that the story is plot driven or character driven? In other words, do events unfold quickly? Or is more time spent developing characters' inner lives? Does it make a difference to your enjoyment?

How does guilt affect or influence the various characters?

What would you say are Joe's strongest character traits?

If you could change the character of Joe Talbert, what would you change?

Suggested by Members

Compare this story with the story of The Glass Menagerie.
The Innocence Project works to gain exoneration of wrongly convicted persons. Discuss Carl's case and other real cases.
Discuss what each character buried in his or her life.
by ccroft78248 (see profile) 01/02/17

X
X
X
by Smokygirl (see profile) 05/13/16

Notes From the Author to the Bookclub

WINNER! Left Coast Crime Rosebud Award, BEST DEBUT MYSTERY

WINNER! Barry Award, BEST PAPERBACK ORIGINAL

WINNER! Silver Falchion Award, BEST FIRST NOVEL: traditional

2015 Edgar® Award Finalist, BEST FIRST NOVEL

Minnesota Book Award Finalist, BEST GENRE NOVEL

Anthony Award Finalist, BEST FIRST NOVEL

ITW Thriller Awards Finalist, BEST FIRST NOVEL

MysteryPeople 2014 BEST DEBUT NOVEL

Suspense Magazine BEST BOOKS OF 2014/DEBUT AUTHOR

PRAISE FOR THE LIFE WE BURY:

"Thriller fans should keep their eyes on Eskens; he's a comer." --BOOKLIST

"Compulsively suspenseful." --BOOKPAGE

"[A] masterful debut...." --PW STARRED REVIEW

"An intelligent and compelling story with characters that will capture you from the start.... This debut novel never lets the reader off the edge of the seat--the mark of a great story."

--THE BIG THRILL

"Set against the backdrop of a brutal Minnesota winter, The Life We Bury is much more than a satisfying, suspenseful novel.... This story kept me turning the pages, and it touched my heart. The characters are as real as my next-door neighbors, the story compelling, and the writing superb." --SUSPENSE MAGAZINE

"Eskens delivers interesting puzzles, clever problem-solving, and plenty of stay-up-all-night-reading suspense." --REVIEWING THE EVIDENCE

"Eskens's first-person narration grabs the reader and never relinquishes its hold."

--LIBRARY JOURNAL EDITOR'S FALL PICK

Book Club Recommendations

Member Reviews

Overall rating:
 
 
  "great discussion"by cindywiser (see profile) 09/08/17

We had a very lively discussion about "The Life We Bury" so I would certainly recommend it for any book club.

 
  "The Life We Bury"by nbaker (see profile) 08/29/17

I’m not sure if this story was about the life we bury or the life we unearth. A Vietnam veteran, a loner with little social interaction is charged and convicted of raping the teenage girl ... (read more)

 
by hernanka (see profile) 08/10/17

 
by BrumbyMiller (see profile) 07/13/17

 
by jlwaz812@gmail.com (see profile) 07/09/17

 
by alyse1216@gmail.com (see profile) 07/08/17

 
by loladep (see profile) 07/08/17

 
by cmn610@gmail.com (see profile) 07/05/17

 
  "the life we bury"by agnesd (see profile) 06/25/17

One of the worst books I've ever read. A poorly written
Hardy Boys book.

 
by lucydog (see profile) 06/08/17

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