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Reading Group Guide

Discussion Questions

Symphony of Secrets

1. Was Freddy wrong, given who he was and when he lived, to “help” Josephine the way he did?

2. Is Freddy a hero or a villain, and why?

3. If Josephine hadn’t been Black, do you think that Freddy could have gotten away with what he did?

4. If Josephine hadn’t been neurodivergent, do you think that Freddy could have gotten away with what he did?

5. In the author’s note, Brendan Slocumb says that he wrote this book to be a “voice for the voiceless.” What do you think he meant, and have you ever felt silenced? Have you ever tried to help others who could be seen as “voiceless”? If so, how?

6. Was the Delaney Foundation inherently greedy or evil, or were they just trying to preserve their legacy?

7. How important, or unimportant, was it that most of the Board members were white, and that Bern and Eboni were Black?

8. In the 1920s, many composers would go to jazz clubs and appropriate melodies and themes from other musicians. Is this appropriation necessarily bad, or is that just what art is --- to adapt someone else’s vision and make it your own? How much is too much?

9. Bern struggled when he discovered that his idol, Freddy Delaney, had done some really rotten things. Have you ever had your idealism destroyed when someone you looked up to turned out to be not what you expected?

10. Do you think it’s important that the present-day storyline never discovered what happened to Josephine?

11. The author has said that the book is about the limits of human knowledge. How do you think the storylines and themes play into that?

12. Who’s your favorite character and why?

Symphony of Secrets
by Brendan Slocumb

  • Publication Date: January 23, 2024
  • Genres: Fiction, Mystery, Suspense, Thriller
  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage
  • ISBN-10: 0593315456
  • ISBN-13: ‎9780593315453