The Jealous Kind

A Novel

The Jealous Kind

From New York Times bestselling author James Lee Burke—an atmospheric, coming-of-age story set in 1952 Texas, as the Korea War rages.

On its surface, life in Houston is as you would expect: drive-in restaurants, souped-up cars, jukeboxes, teenagers discovering their sexuality. But beneath the glitz and superficial normalcy, a class war has begun, and it is nothing like the conventional portrayal of the decade. Against this backdrop Aaron Holland Broussard discovers the poignancy of first love and a world of violence he did not know existed.

When Aaron spots the beautiful and gifted Valerie Epstein fighting with her boyfriend, Grady Harrelson, at a Galveston drive-in, he inadvertently challenges the power of the Mob and one of the richest families in Texas. He also discovers he must find the courage his father had found as an American soldier in the Great War.

Written in evocative prose, The Jealous Kind may prove to be James Lee Burke’s most encompassing work yet. As Aaron undergoes his harrowing evolution from boy to man, we can’t help but recall the inspirational and curative power of first love and how far we would go to protect it.

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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

More Books from this Author

House of the Rising Sun
Cadillac Jukebox
Wayfaring Stranger
Jolie Blon's Bounce

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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