Use these discussion questions to guide your next meeting.


For Sandy Rivers, delivering the newspaper each morning becomes a kind of hero’s journey into the riven heart of a nation torn by war in Vietnam, the struggle for Civil Rights and the search for American purpose. His suburban landscape on the outskirts of the Virginia capital is an intimate if unsteady place of aging Buicks and loblolly pines, where the racial fault line is a bamboo grove at the edge of a honeysuckle swamp.

Helping him sort it all out is a mysterious figure with a tragic secret who stands by Sandy as he confronts a staggering loss. 

This is a story of friendship. This is a story of hope. It’s the story of an era that helped shape this country and define our times, told through one boy’s extraordinary journey through his own small patch of America. And it’s the story of a debt he can never repay to someone he knows only as The Bicycle Man


The Bicycle Man opens on the day the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in Memphis, and it ends on the day Ho Chi Minh died in Hanoi. How, looking back, did that era shape our country, and how did reliving that history through the eyes of a boy create, or recreate, the way you experienced that period?

A boy on a bike in the first light of dawn creates an image of opportunity and opening, for a morning, a day and a life. How did that sense of potential strike you, as a reader, and what chords echoed through your own life around discovery and possibility?

There’s a moment when Sandy recalls being alone in the woods by the honeysuckle swamp as a boy and being told a frightening story about spirits by an old man. The story sticks with him and imbues the landscape with a sense of mystery and a hint of danger. Did you see in this a metaphor for the larger world, as we experience it as children? How did that experience help prepare Sandy for facing the uncertain and the unknown?