Derek Ouelette’s glory days are behind him. His hockey career ended a decade earlier in a violent incident on ice, and since then he’s been living off his reputation in the remote northern community where he grew up, drinking too much and fighting anyone who crosses him. But he never counts on his long-lost sister, Beth, showing up one day out of the blue, back in town and on the run from an abusive boyfriend. Looking to hide out for a while, the two siblings hunker down in a secluded hunting camp deep in the local woods. It is there that they attempt to find a way to reconnect with each other and the painful secrets of their past...even as Beth’s ex draws closer, threatening to pull both Derek and Beth back into a world of self-destruction that they are fighting tooth and nail to leave behind.
Simultaneously touching and harrowing, Roughneck is a masterwork from New York Times bestselling writer/artist Jeff Lemire—a deeply moving and beautifully illustrated story of family, heritage, and the desire to break the cycle of violence at any cost from one of today’s most acclaimed comic creators.
Jeff Lemire on his Drawing Style
Reading Group Guide
Roughneck By Jeff Lemire
These questions can be used to facilitate class conversations about key themes and elements of the novel. Teachers may also choose to use these questions as prompts for writing activities, or can expand upon individual questions to design full lessons.
1. In the first 8 pages of the novel, we are introduced to the town of Pimitamon (from the Cree, for “Crossroads”) and the character of Derek Ouellette. In these 8 pages, what do we learn about Derek and the town? Make sure to consider information presented visually, as well as textually.
2. At various moments throughout the novel, Derek encounters a wild dog. What role does the dog play throughout the novel? How does Derek's relationship with the dog change over the course of the story? What could this symbolize?
3. What is Al's relationship to Derek and Beth? How does he help the Ouellette siblings throughout the novel?
4. Shortly after returning to Pimitamon, Beth accuses Derek of "leaving her" alone when he went to play hockey. What do you think life for a young person would be like in Pimitamon?
5. Hockey, for better and worse, has played a major role in Derek's life. What role did the game play in his childhood? What was his relationship to the game in his prime? How does the game continue to affect his life?
6. Based on the flashbacks to Dere see more