22. Discuss the use of the headlines that open each chapter. What do they say about the local and global concerns of humanity? In what way were the headlines timeless, and in what way did they convey the unique attributes of this locale? What headlines would be most significant in marking the chapters of your life?
23. What is the significance of the two time periods in the lives of the characters? How were the Dunn brothers shaped by a youth of economic hardship and the presence of POWs? How was Ian shaped by an era of greater liberation, with television for entertainment and “risqué” music on the radio? What dreams for the future did each of these generations possess?
24. Discuss the nature of love and marriage as described in the novel. What made Jake so irresistible to Laura? What made Dr. Christopherson’s wife choose another man? Was Laura’s appeal strictly physical when she first moved to town? What is the riskiest romantic decision you have made?
25. Why is Ian so transformed by the “day of the dragonflies” that concludes chapter nine? What did these memories mean to him?
26. Discuss the novel’s title. What does it mean for the characters to reach the other side of the bridge? Could Jake and Arthur ever be free of the wounds they inflicted on each other?
27. Who ultimately was responsible for Jake’s fall from the bridge? Who ultimately paid the price (literally, in terms of his medical bills, and figuratively as well)?
28. How did you react to the knowledge that Ian followed in his father’s footsteps after all? Did he make the right decision?
29. Laura confides in Arthur soon after meeting him, telling him she doesn’t believe that God cares about humanity (Chapter Ten). How would you have responded to her?
30. Discuss the cycles of tragedy conveyed in the Dunn family history, from the death of Arthur’s father to the closing scenes of Carter. How do characters cope with the concepts of fate versus intent? How do they cope with regret?
31. Dr. Christopherson and Ian talk about their puppy:
"The advantage of a small brain," his father said. "She's living in the moment and the moment is good."Is it possible to live in the moment? Do you think people live mostly in the present? Or do many people live in the past, always remembering or maybe feeling regret? Or do some live in the future, always scheming about how to get rich quick or living for the day when things will change?
"That sounds like a philosophy, not a small brain."
His father considered it. "You could be right." (p. 268)
32. What else about the book would you like to talk about? Do you have questions that weren't asked? Or questions you still wonder about?