Homesick Creek by Diane Hammond

Readers have asked . . .

Q: How could you let Bob keep his HIV status a secret from Anita when he knew it would kill her?

A: I had always assumed that Bob would tell Anita about his HIV status and what had led up to it, but I kept putting it off. I finally realized that that was exactly how Bob would deal with the problem, too. The soundtrack playing behind most of his adult life was a love song to Anita, a nearly-beautiful woman who had chosen him over other men. He knew he was weak and ineffectual. And yet, she stayed with him. He didn’t fear his own death–or Anita’s– nearly as much as he feared the thought that Anita might die seeing him for what he really was. In his own words, he “couldn’t have that.” So instead he arranged for her a death of transcendent beauty in a house that was, if only for a few hours, her own. By handling things as he did, Bob spared her from knowing what she faced, and ensured that the end came quickly and with dignity. Are these acts of cowardice or strength? Do they damn or redeem him? I don’t know.

A Discussion Guide for Reading Groups

  1. How would you explain Hack’s relationship with Bunny’s daughter Vinny? How does it compare with the relationship he had with his sister Katy?
     
  2. Bunny feels that her charms, in Hack’s eyes, were mainly sexual. Is she right?
     
  3. In what ways do Bunny and Hack look after Anita and Bob? Does their help come from deep affection, or pity?
     
  4. What is Bob’s relationship with Warren based on–sexuality, love, weakness? Why is it so important to Bob that it be kept a secret?
     
  5. Does Rae Macy really threaten Bunny and Hack’s marriage, as Bunny feared?
     
  6. Why does Hack turn away from Rae when she offers herself to him?
     
  7. Does Bob’s decision to hasten Anita’s death redeem or damn him?
     
  8. Is Bunny’s mother, Shirl, a wise woman or a foolish one?
     
  9. 9. Minna Tallhorse allows Hack and Katy to remain on their own. Is she right to do so, or does she contribute to the events that culminated in Katy’s death?
     
  10. Why does Hack decide to get in touch with Minna Tallhorse after so many years?
     
  11. Hack finally tells Bunny about Katy. Why does he keep it secret for so long?
     
  12. In the end, Bunny finds reasons to go on with her marriage. Is her decision one of resolve or weakness? How would you have handled the situation if you were Bunny?
     
  13. Why do Bunny and Hack decide to raise Crystal? Who drives the decision, Hack or Bunny?
     
  14. Is Homesick Creek a love story or a tragedy?
     
  15. In a marriage, are there times when keeping secrets is okay, or is it always wrong? Do you keep secrets from your spouse? Why?

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