1. The title of the book asks readers to consider the characteristics of a “True American.” What do you think the author meant by posing this question about authenticity?
2. In this election year, US voters will be asked to make a decision about leadership and what represents “American values.” What does the author ask readers to compare in the text as examples of “True American values?”
3. What were the events that lead to Raisuddin Bhuiyan coming to the United States? In what ways did the US match his expectations? In what ways did the US not match his expectations?
4. Describe three possible perspectives on the death penalty as presented in the text. Which perspective appears to be supported by the jury’s decision?
5. What are some strengths of the criminal justice system that are revealed through the events in the text? What are some of the weaknesses?
6. Describe the author’s writing style. Is the author’s voice evident in the text? If so, provide an example. If not, in what ways does that strategy impact the telling of the story?
7. What role does research play in the telling of the story? How did it impact your experience of the events in the text?
8. Which experiences in Stroman’s life did his lawyers identify as related to his decision to act the way he did? Which of their arguments do you find the most compelling? Least compelling? Why?
9. What role does religion play in the book? What role does religion play in your own sense of identity? What role does religion play in your own sense of mercy and justice?
10. What are some of the key elements of Islamic beliefs as presented by Bhuiyan? In what ways are they similar to other religious belief systems?
11. In what way did the events of 9/11 influence the events of the book? How do the events of 9/11 impact your experience today?
12. Was there an element in the book that surprised you? Why?
13. Describe a time when someone made an incorrect assumption about you or your background. How did you feel? How did you respond?
14. Describe a time when you made an incorrect assumption about someone. What was that experience like? How was the situation resolved?
15. What is your own family’s migration story? Are there elements of the story that match your family’s story?
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