The Wonder Boy of Whistle Stop

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Author: 
Flagg, Fannie

Bud Threadgoode grew up in the bustling little railroad town of Whistle Stop, Alabama, with his mother Ruth, church going and proper, and the fun-loving hell-raiser, his Aunt Idgie. Together they ran the town's popular Whistle Stop Café, known far and wide for its famous "Fried Green Tomatoes." And as Bud often said of his childhood, "How lucky can you get?" But sadly, the railroad yards began to shut down and the town became a ghost town, with nothing left but boarded-up buildings and memories of a happier time. Then one day, Bud decides to take one last trip, just to see where his beloved Whistle Stop used to be. In so doing, he discovers new surprises about Idgie's life and about other beloved Fried Green Tomatoes characters, and about the town itself. He also sets off a series of events, both touching and inspiring, which change his life and the lives of his daughter and others. Could these events all be just coincidences? Or something else? And can you go home again?-- Provided by publisher.

Genre: 
Discussion Guide: 
1.There are so many wonderful (and a few not-so-wonderful) characters in this novel. Which character do you relate to most, and why? Is there a character you wish you could be more like?
2.“I’ve often wondered where all those memories go after we die,” Dot Weems writes in a Christmas letter. “Are they still floating around up in the ether somewhere, or do they die with us?” Memory is a major theme in The Won-der Boy of Whistle Stop: Characters cheer themselves up with happy memories, seek out characters who share their memories, and mourn mem-ories that fade. Share one of your favorite memories with your discussion group—or if you’re reading solo, write it down. What do you love about it? Has the memory changed over time?
3.Martha Lee is obsessed with status and the idea of “good” (meaning wealthy) families. Have you ever been tempted to think this way? Discuss what one loses—and the wonderful people they might not ever meet—by associating only with those deemed “worthy.”
4.Ruthie asks Bud to write his life story after reading an article saying that everyone should write out a life history for their family to have in the future. Did you ever ask your parents or grandparents about their lives? If so, what stories do you remember? What stories will you pass on from your own life? For inspiration, start with something Bud wrote about: What was the great-est day you personally lived through?
5.The Wonder Boy of Whistle Stop shifts back and forth through time, and across multiple characters’ perspectives. What are the benefits of nonlinear story-telling like this? 6.Losing loved ones is a part of life, and so many characters experience heart-breaking loss in the book. Bud loses Peggy, Ruthie loses Brooks—you could even argue that Bud loses Whistle Stop. How does each character cope with loss differently? How have you dealt with loss in the past? 7.Sometimes, a loss causes a character to lose part of his or her identity. This happens to Bud when he loses his other half, Peggy; it happens to Ruthie when she loses her identity as a wife and mother (of young children); and it even happens to Martha Lee when she realizes she’s built her identity on a false lineage. What are some of the ways these characters rebuild their identities once they’ve been shattered? Have you ever experienced some-thing that caused you to have to rebuild or reconsider your identity?
8.There are so many female entrepreneurs and business owners in this book, from Ruth and Idgie to Opal Butts to Evelyn Couch. What hardships did these women face in trying to live their dreams? How did they inspire the women who came after them?
9.Though they aren’t related by blood, Evelyn and Ruthie decide to declare themselves sisters. Do you think we should be able to choose our families? Who are some friends in your life who have become more like family?
10.Regret is a natural consequence of life: We simply don’t get the chance to do everything we’d like, the way Bud and Peggy never got the chance to buy a house near Idgie and retire. How do characters deal with regret? How do you deal with feelings of regret in your own life? Do you think it’s possible to avoid these feelings? Why or why not?
11.At the end of the book, kismet and connection bring the descendants of former Whistle Stop residents together as they build a new town (an “all-gal town,” as Evelyn puts it!). What role have surprising connections and strange coincidences played in your own life? In what ways does the world sometimes feel like one big small town?