The Boat Runner

by Devin Murphy
 For readers of All The Light We Cannot See and The Nightingale,  a WWII story as seen through the eyes of a young Dutch boy. An emotional story of survival and hope. The Boat Runner by Devin Murphy

Discussion Questions

1. Jacob Koopman's mother is an organist, his brother is a brilliant painter, his father an inventor, and his uncle a mysterious fisherman. How do the identities of Jacob's closest relationships shape his own identity? How does that identity change over the course of the novel?

2. On page 25, Jacob describes himself feeling "like a meek little I'm-sorry machine. I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'd chant ... I'd do this to try to keep the peace between everyone, though I hated every time the words crossed my lips." When does this aspect of his character create challenges for him? How does his action or inaction shape his fate? When does Jacob first make a choice of his own?

3. Why is storytelling so important to Jacob? In what ways does the idea of storytelling surface in this novel? What do the recurrent Thump -drag stories add to the novel?

4 .Most war stories portray allies and enemies, but in The Boat Runner, things are not as clear cut, and each character is held morally responsibility for their own actions. What do you think the author hoped to achieve in doing this?

5. Of all the losses Jacob sustains in this story, what is the one loss that changes him the most? What is Jacob's greatest personal strength?

6. Jacob Koopman is complex character and is often shown in private moments struggling to do what's right. What are some of the moral dilemmas Jacob must face? In what ways do the labels hero or villain describe him?

7. How does the persecution of Jews reveal itself in this book, and how does Jacob react to encountering this? Do his reactions change over the course of the novel?

8. Consider the idea of borders in this novel. The physical location of Jacob's town sits on the edge of two countries as well as on the edge of land and water. Jacob is also on the border between boyhood and becoming a man. What are some of the other borders that Jacob encounters? How are these borders significant in understanding his character?

9. In what ways does the sea and shipping become an essential part of the novel? How did Uncle Martin and Jacob's missions aboard ship complicate the story?

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