Questions about The Revenge of the Radioactive Lady

  1. While most of us (thank goodness!) have never decided to kill someone, many of us have been infuriated by someone or some injustice. Do you believe that revenge is ever justified, and under what circumstances? To what extent do you sympathize with Marylou’s decision to move to Tallahassee and stalk Wilson Spriggs? What do you think you would have done in her situation?
  2. Are there ways in which Otis and Ava’s having Asperger’s Syndrome is similar to the radiation experiment that Marylou experienced? How are the two situations different?
  3. Asperger’s Syndrome affects Otis differently than Ava. What do you know about Asperger’s and other neuro-disorders on the autism spectrum? Does the book seem to speak authentically to the ways in which Asperger’s Syndrome affects both boys and girls differently? In what ways do you think Suzi’s problems are a consequence of having two siblings with Asperger’s?
  4. Do you believe that Suzi asked for what she got from Rev. Coffey? Does she understand the incident more, or less, than the adults around her do?
  5. What’s the biggest problem in Vic and Caroline’s marriage? What do you think’s going to happen to them?
  6. What does it mean to forgive someone? How important is it to forgive, and to be forgiven? What role does religion play in this novel?
  7. Who is your favorite character in the book and why?
  8. Quite likely you were surprised by the change in Wilson and Marylou’s relationship, but did you find their relationship believable? Understandable? Why or why not? Why do you think it takes the turn it does?
  9. As the novel’s acknowledgements reveal, the radiation experiments in this book are based on actual experiments carried out on U. S. citizens during the Cold War. Do you think such experiments are ever justified? Even if you don’t, how do you think scientists and government officials justified them to themselves?
  10. The Revenge of the Radioactive Lady is told from multiple points of view. Though always third-person limited, the point of view shifts from character to character with each chapter. Did you find this technique effective? What does it allow that first-person or third-person omniscient would not have allowed?
  11. Stuckey-French is known for her dark humor. In interviews, she has talked about her admiration for deeply ironic writers such as William Trevor and Flannery O’Connor, and how her teachers Ethan Canin and Margot Livesey both urged her to “to push the humor and hysteria” in her work as far as she could and that when she did, “things really started to take off in my writing.” Do you find this novel humorous? If so, what parts did you find funniest and what are the sources of the book’s humor?
  12. When he picked Stuckey-French’s story “Mudlavia” for the PEN/O’Henry Awards, Richard Russo remarked on the “the way its private and public stories play off each other,” a trait also at work in The Revenge of the Radioactive Lady. How is this novel about America and the Spriggs family? The domestic front and the Cold War?