Pious by Kenn Bivins was written in such a style that makes it the perfect book for being the focus of a book club read to dissect the social context, allegories, hidden treasures, moral quandaries, and so on.
The following questions are a guideline to begin to delve deeper into the world and mind of Carpious Mightson.
- What specific theme(s) do you think the author emphasized throughout the novel?
- The author also illustrated the cover. What does the illustration have to do with the story?
- Does Carpious seem real and believable to you? Can you relate to his predicaments and/or struggle? Did you have sympathy for him?
- Can you personally relate to any of the characters? To what extent, if any, do they remind you of yourself or someone you know?
- How do the characters change or evolve throughout the course of the story? What events triggered those changes?
- In what ways do events that happen in the book reveal evidence of the author’s world view?
- Did certain parts of the book make you uncomfortable? If so, why did you feel that way? Did this lead to a new understanding or awareness of some aspect of your life you might not have thought about before?
- When Ian is moving into the neighborhood, he drops a ragged, dog-eared Bible with half the cover missing. This same book appears at the end of the story in a completely different place. How did it get there? What do you think is the significance of this?
- Drew’s storyline doesn’t come to a conclusive ending. This is intentional because in real life, some struggles are ongoing. How do you think Drew’s story truly ends? Will Lela take him back? Has Drew accepted who he is?
- Could you have done what Sydney ultimately did? Do you think she displayed weakness or strength to do what she did?
“Secrets. Everyone has them.” Pious has quite a few. Here are some, in case you missed them…
WARNING: If you haven’t read Pious yet, these secrets are also known as SPOILERS. Hover to reveal.
- Pious takes place over the course of three seasons – Fall, Winter, and Spring. This is intentional and even in describing Carpious, the author is likening him (his skin color) to the Fall. Something about him is on the verge of dying as the story begins.
- The street name, Mechi Lane, is a nod to the practice of “mechila” which is asking for forgiveness. Mechila is given particular attention during Yom Kippur, one of the holiest days of the year for people of Jewish faith.
- Admah City is a fictional metropolis named after Admah, an actual city mentioned in the Bible as one of the neighboring cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. It was a major sea port of trade. Admah City is akin to a New York, LA or Atlanta and is allegedly located somewhere in North Carolina.
- 361 Mechi Lane mirrors Carpious’s house number of 163 much like Ian is a reformed mirror of Carpious.
- Pious is told in three acts, following Richard Wright’s Native Son as a guide – fear, flight, and fate.
- Chapter 1 is all about facades. “You define what you want people to see,” is what real estate agent, Deidre says to Ian.
- Alethea's name is derived from a Greek word which means “truth.” Who she was in the beginning is who she was in the end.
- Carpious name is a play on “pious” and “carp,” a fish. The fish is indicative of the Christian symbol. Carpious masks himself with this religious ideology.
- As odd as his name is, Carpious was named after his father. More irony.
- Carpious knows where to buy drugs and how to pick locks. These instances are a peek into the fact that he once was, or still is, someone else.
- Near the end, Carpious is referred to by his prison ID number, RM13911. This is a reference to Bible verses Romans 13:9-11.
The main focus of these passages is “You shall love your neighbor as yourself. Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.“
- The cover was originally intended to be a full color painting, but the author/illustrator didn’t want too much visual information to distract from the metaphorical meaning of the cover. He also wanted to add a sense of mystery to the identity of the character.