1. The Brave opens with the last time that Tommy sees his mother, after she’s been sentenced to death. What do you think of their interaction here? Is Tommy right to be so upset? How might Tom reflect on it now, as an adult?
2. What do you make of young Tommy’s childhood obsession with cowboys? Do you think that his experience of them as an English boy would have varied from that of an American youth?
3. Tommy is devoted to his older sister, Diane, who he later learns is his mother. What did you think of this revelation? Was Diane right not to have told Tommy for so long --- or to have told him at all? What might you have done in Diane’s shoes?
4. Conversely, what did you think of the role that Diane’s parents played in this decision --- and in Tommy’s life in general?
5. Moving from boarding school in England to Hollywood is a major change in landscape for Tommy. How might Diane and Tommy’s lives have gone differently had they stayed home?
6. Decades later, Tom leads a solitary life in Montana. Is his solitude incidental or chosen?
7. How would you connect Tom’s early obsession with cowboys and Indians with his later interest in the Blackfeet tribe? How do his ideas about Native Americans change? Why do you think that Nicholas Evans chose to make this a theme of the book?
8. Tommy’s childhood hero, the actor Ray Montane, turns out to be a violent man. How do themes of violence in the novel relate to the Hollywood setting? Is there something about both that is particularly “American”?
9. Later in the book, we learn that Diane made a sacrifice for her son in the aftermath of Ray’s death. How did this decision affect the direction that Tom’s life took?
10. Tom and his son, Danny, disagree about the Iraq war, and they hardly speak to each other. What do you make of this disagreement between father and son? Which one of them is more likely to change the other’s mind?
11. After Danny is accused of a war crime, Tom reinserts himself into his son’s life to try and help him. Was Tom right to suddenly reappear like this? How would you feel about it if you were Danny?
12. How are the ideas of the “Wild West” and heroism related in the novel?
13. Where do you think Tom and Danny will be in their relationship five years down the road?
14. What do you make of the book’s title?