Book Club



Let The Water Hold Me Down


Michael Spurgeon was residing in San Cristóbal de las Casas at the time of the Zapatista Uprising. He and his wife and their two children currently live in Sacramento, California, where he is a tenured professor of English at American River College.


Still reeling from the loss of his family in an accident that he feels responsible for causing, Hank Singer accepts an invitation to move to the isolated and beautiful state of Chiapas. There, in the streets and cafes of a colonial city nestled in the mountain forests, he settles into the semblance of a new life under the watchful eye of his best friend and former college roommate, César, the charismatic heir to one of Mexico's most powerful families. But when an army of impoverished Indians calling themselves Zapatistas emerges from the jungle to seize half the state, Hank finds himself a foreigner trapped in someone else's war. The repercussions of the decisions he makes-and does not make-threaten to shatter both his friendship and the renewed life he has found in the Mexican highlands.


1. This novel is about terrible loss but also about love, war and politics. The main character, Hank Singer, is the fulcrum around which much of the story revolves. Can you think of some of the main events of the novel that are caused by Hank's actions?

2. Maria and Hank have in common that they have had experiences that have caused them not to be able to live in the way they or their families expected. The big change in Hank's life is, of course, the death of his wife and daughter. What events and opportunities have most changed Maria?

3. How would you describe loss in Maria's life?

4. Who are the three main "loves" of Hank's life and what becomes of each of them?

5. Do you think Hank is naïve not to realize what is going on around him in San Cristóbal de las Casas and what might be the consequences of his actions?

6. Have you ever been geographically close to a major historical event?

7. Have you ever had to take a side in a conflict where you live, go to school or work?

8. Do we take sides with our actions whether we realize it or not?

This reading group guide is provided by Small Press Distribution to Engage as You Age as part of the "I Remember Project" to support reading groups for seniors in Marin Country. SPD's "I Remember Project" is generously supported by the Marin Community Foundation.

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