Come in and Cover Me
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When Ren was only twelve years old, she lost her older brother, Scott, to a car crash. Since then, Scott has been a presence in her life, appearing as a snatch of song or a reflection in the moonlight. Now, twenty-five years later, her talent for connecting with the ghosts around her has made her especially sensitive as an archaeologist. More than just understanding the bare outline of how our ancestors lived, Ren is dedicated to re-creating lives and stories, to breathing life into those who occupied this world long before us. Now she is on the cusp of the most important discovery of her career, and it is ghosts who are guiding her way. But what do two long-dead Mimbres women have to tell Ren about herself? And what message do they have about her developing relationship with a fellow archaeologist, the first man to really know her since her brother's death? Come In and Cover Me is the moving story of a woman learning to let go of the past in order to move forward with her own future.
Written with the same warmth and depth of feeling that drew readers to The Well and the Mine, Phillips's debut, Come In and Cover Me is a haunting and engrossing new novel.
Gin Phillips lives in Birmingham, Alabama. The Well and the Mine is her first novel.
- While Silas and many others approach archaeology from a broad cultural perspective, Ren’s approach focuses on the individual personal lives of her subjects. How does her history inform her practice of archaeology? What is the benefit of pursuing individuals?
- Think about the ghosts in Come In and Cover Me. Are the ghosts that Ren sees in Caņada Rosa of a different sort than Scott’s ghost? Why or why not? Do they have different purposes in appearing to Ren? Why or why not? What do they want from-or for-her?
- Think about how grief affects people differently. What do you think of Ren’s reaction to Scott’s death? Her parents’ reaction? How do you think a different reaction from her parents would have altered Ren’s response to the loss. How do you think they could have handled Scott’s death better?
- Scott’s appearances to Ren are usually announced by a snatch of music. How is Scott’s ghost a metaphor for the way we hold on to memories of lost loved ones? What kinds of things cause you to remember people you have lost?
- Silas challenges Ren in a way that she has never been challenged before. How is he different from the other men that she has dated in the past? What does he offer her that those men did not?
- Gin Phillips has chosen a quote from the Book of Ruth for her epigraph, and in many ways Lynay and Non’s story mirrors the story of Ruth. Think about female companionship in Come In and Cover Me. How important is it? What is the significance of the last line of the novel in this context?
- Storytelling is deeply important to all of the characters. In what ways do their attitudes toward telling their own stories differ? Think about storytelling in a larger context. Why is it important that we tell stories about ourselves to other people? How does Ren’s refusal to share her past hinder her ability to be part of a community?
- Phillips takes time to pay attention to the little moments between people, whether between Ren and Silas, Ren as a child and her family, or Ren and the group at the dig. How do these moments bind us together? Silas talks often about how communities are shaped by outside influences. How do we build our own communities from the inside?