In the Midnight Room

In the Midnight Room

by Laura McBride

Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide for In the Midnight Room includes an introduction, discussion questions, ideas for enhancing your book club, and a Q&A with author Laura McBride. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.

Introduction

What is it about the Midnight Club?

Spanning the six decades during which Las Vegas grows from a dusty whistle-stop into a melting-pot metropolis, In the Midnight Room tells the story of four women whose lives intertwine after each one experiences a transformative moment in this Las Vegas nightclub.

The one who falls in love. June hires a charismatic black singer to anchor her club, but her fast-paced lifestyle runs aground as racial tensions mount.

The one who gets lucky. Honorata leaves the Philippines to become a mail-order bride, then strikes it rich in the Midnight Room.

The one whose heart is broken. Engracia finds bad luck in the Midnight Room, and becomes enmeshed in Honorata’s secrets when she confronts a man with a gun.

The one who keeps hoping. Coral struggles with her mysterious past until an attempt to help Engracia steers her to the Midnight Room.

Even in their darkest hours, these women make courageous choices that transform those they love, those they don’t know, and most profoundly, each other.

Topics & Questions for Discussion

1. Describe El Capitan. What does June love about it? How and why is it significant to the other characters in In the Midnight Room? Does it change throughout time?

2. Why do you think McBride introduces the principal characters as falling in love, and getting lucky, and so on? How does those descriptions affect your reading of their stories?

3. When June Stein first appears, the narrator says of her, “She was bad for the neighborhood. Things happened to other girls because of June Stein.” What were your initial impressions of June? Did you like her? Were you surprised by the way her story ended?

4. At the end of June’s section, Del examines the choices he made. What were they? Were they bad?

5. When Honorata arrived in the United States, she thought that “the Honorata who had lived in Manila did not exist anymore.” How has she changed?

6. Augusta tells Coral: “Life is long. There’s a lot of ways for a secret to come out.” What secret has Augusta been keeping? Do you agree with her decision to do so?

7. When Coral tells Ada she’s afraid to share news of her pregnancy, Ada instructs her to “give up that Coral thing. . . . that everything-has-to-be-right, my-life-isn’t-messy thing.” Do you think Coral is a perfectionist, needing to control everything around her? How have her experiences shaped her? Why is she afraid to tell Koji about her pregnancy?

8. Nanay tells Honorata that Malaya is “an American,” who “should do American things.” What does she mean? Do you think Malaya and Honorata are alike despite coming of age in different cultures?

9. In the aftermath of June’s pregnancy, she believes that “Del was not the one who had made the mistake. It was not Del who had risked Marshall’s world.” Do you agree? What mistakes have been made? How does Del handle this situation?

10. Do you think Del’s actions are justified? What effect do they have on both Del and June?

11. Coral sees her relationship with Gerald as “a private shame.” Do you think any of the romantic relationships in In the Midnight Room are healthy?

12. Cora believes that, ultimately, marrying Del “was going to be the best decision June ever made.” Do you agree? Is June’s marriage to Del beneficial to her? Did you find any aspects of their relationship surprising?

13. Moving to Las Vegas was “not the hardest thing [Engracia] had done. It was easy to do hard things for her son.” What other sacrifices, if any, does Engracia make for him? Do you think she’s a good mother? Do other characters in In the Midnight Room make sacrifices for their children? Were there any that you found particularly moving?

14. Once Coral was older, “she sometimes imagined Odell Dibb differently than Augusta had described him.” What did you think of Odell? Did you like him?

15. Eddie, speaking to June about their relationship, says, “For you, it’s fun. For me, it’s the end.” Is the friendship dangerous for each of them? Do they also support each other?

16. In chapter 26, the narration switches from third person to first, with June telling her own story. What is the effect of the change in narration? Why do you think McBride does it?

17. Why does Coral choose to share the story of her upbringing with Malaya? Does it help Malaya? What effect does sharing the story have on Coral?

Enhance Your Book Club

1.When Augusta asked Coral to host the family Christmas celebration, telling Coral that hosting was becoming too much for her, “Coral knew that this wasn’t true. Moving Christmas to [Coral’s] house was Augusta’s way of anointing Coral’s home.” Why is it important that Augusta anoint Coral’s home? Who hosts major holiday meals in your family?

2. Read We Are Called to Rise with your book club and compare it to In the Midnight Room. Has McBrides’s writing style changed since the release of her debut novel?

3. Las Vegas has occupied a special place in American mythology. To June “Las Vegas was the future.” For Honorata, it is the first place in the United States where she has been treated with kindness and where she can make a home. Have you visited Las Vegas? If so, what are your impressions of it? And if not, how do you imagine it?

4. To learn more about Laura McBride and read more about her other books, visit her official site at http://lauramcbrideauthor.com/

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