Discussion Guide: The Displacements
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1. The Displacements explores the aftermath of an unprecedented category 6 hurricane and the lives that are upended and transformed in its wake. From the outside, the Larsen-Hall family seems to have a perfect life, until Hurricane Luna destroys their home and their livelihoods, and they are forced to evacuate to a federal megashelter. What preexisting tensions does the hurricane uncover within the family? What new challenges do they face?
 

2. Rain Holton is the tough-as-nails former army officer turned disaster assistance administrator for FEMA. What qualities make Rain uniquely positioned to create and run the megashelter? What lessons does she learn, and how does she grow from the experience? Does being part of the bureaucracy of FEMA help or hamper her efforts?

3. Within the megashelter, certain divisions of race, class, and culture from the outside world are replicated. In what ways does the disaster redefine those divisions? Which characters move freely between worlds within the shelter? Which characters use the disaster to cement existing hierarchies?

4. Some characters seem to transform in the megashelter. Consider Tate, Jessamyn, Daphne, Gavin, Mia, and Rain. How do they each change in terms of identity, behavior, or perspective? How do you think communal living in the megashelter contributes to these shifts? What else contributes?

5. Discuss the relationship between Rain and her daughter, Vanessa, a doctoral student in California. How does it evolve over the course of the book? What does Rain learn from Vanessa by the end, and how does Vanessa challenge Rain’s worldview? How much of their difference in perspective is due to their generational experiences?

6. What role does the digital humanities project “The Great Displacement: A Digital Chronicle of the Luna Migration” play in the novel? Did it enhance your reading experience? Which graphics and testimonies added to your understanding of how the storm affected different communities?

7. Discuss Range, the large-scale outdoor game children play in the shelter. What opportunities for connection arise because of it? Do the teams reflect the demographic makeup of the megashelter or subvert it? What does the game show about the way children respond to a disaster?

8. Many family structures are upended in the wake of Hurricane Luna. Who benefits from these upheavals, and who suffers? Take, for example, the character of Brantley. Were you surprised by the revelations about him at the end of the novel? How does his disappearance help Daphne reinvent herself? What new possibilities does it bring for Gavin?

9. In many ways, The Displacements shows us a possible near-future, in which climate change causes widescale catastrophe. Did the novel change your understanding of the social, political, and familial dynamics that may occur as climate change accelerates?

10. We hear a lot in the news about how climate change will inordinately affect the world’s poor, but how did this novel make you think about the changes that might come for those who once considered themselves secure?  

11. Holsinger structures his storytelling for maximum suspense and propulsion. What surprised you most? What kept you biting your nails? When you think of the story, how do you characterize this novel—is it about extreme weather and climate change? Or is it about families, relationships, and love?