The Jealous Kind

A Novel

The Jealous Kind

New York Times bestseller and “the best fiction writer in the country” (Bill O’Reilly, New York Times bestselling author) James Lee Burke returns with a powerful novel in the Holland Family series, an atmospheric coming-of-age story set in 1950s Texas, as the specter of the Korean War looms.

On its surface, life in 1950s Houston is as you’d expect; stoic fathers, restless teens, drive-in movies, and souped-up Cadillacs. But underneath that surface lies a world shifting under high school junior Aaron Holland Broussard’s feet. The underlying class war between the haves and have nots is growing steadily, along with the menace of conflict overseas in Korea, providing a harrowing backdrop to his growth to manhood. But when Aaron spots the beautiful Valerie Epstein at a drive-in, he steps in when he sees her fighting with her boyfriend, Grady Harrelson. Aaron’s newfound confidence helps catch Valerie’s eye, and the two begin dating. Grady is a live wire though, and presents a looming problem for Aaron.

You will recall the feelings and inspirational power of your first love, and empathize with Aaron’s extraordinary challenges to protect himself and the ones he loves in “this dark, atmospheric story” (Publishers Weekly). The Jealous Kind illustrates how first loves, friendship, violence, and power can alter what traditional America means for the people trying to find their way in a changing world.
  • Pocket Books | 
  • 464 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781501107412 | 
  • August 2017
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Hear an Excerpt

Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide for The Jealous Kind includes an introduction, discussion questions, ideas for enhancing your book club, and a Q&A with author James Lee Burke. 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

In 1952, Houston, Texas, is as much a city of souped-up pink convertibles and Friday-night ice cream dates as it is a backdrop for violent class warfare and horrendous crime. As seventeen-year-old Aaron Holland Broussard discovers, offending the wrong person—in this case, Grady Harrelson, the son of one of Houston’s wealthiest men—can have deadly consequences. When Aaron gets between Grady and his girlfriend, the beautiful Valerie Epstein, he sets off a chain of events involving the darkest elements of Houston’s criminal underworld—a trajectory that tests his courage, honor, and capacity for violence.

Topics & Questions for Discussion

1. How does Burke’s portrayal of postwar Houston challenge or complement your preconceived notions about this time period?

2. In the opening scene of The Jealous Kind, Burke writes, “My experience with the jellyfish seemed to characterize my life. No matter how sun-spangled the day might seem, I always felt a sense of dange see more

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About the Author

James Lee Burke
Photograph by James McDavid

James Lee Burke

James Lee Burke is a New York Times bestselling author, two-time winner of the Edgar Award, and the recipient of the Guggenheim Fellowship for Creative Arts in Fiction. A legend of the mystery genre, he's authored thirty-two novels and two short story collections including Robicheaux, Light of the WorldCreole Belle, Swan Peak, The Tin Roof Blowdown, and Feast Day of Fools. He lives in Misoula, Montana.

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