Part of the book is some of the characters’ accounts of their lives in the 1960s. On one occasion Deborah mentions Shelly only showing some emotion when she heard that Sylvia Plath had committed suicide. Sylvia Plath (October 27, 1932 – February 11, 1963) was an American poet, novelist, and short-story writer. Plath was clinically depressed for most of her adult life, and was treated multiple times with electroconvulsive therapy (ECT). She took her own life in 1963.
Shelly calls herself a beatnik. Beatnik was a media stereotype prevalent throughout the 1950s to mid-1960s that displayed the more superficial aspects of the Beat Generation literary movement of the 1950s. Elements of the beatnik trope included pseudo-intellectualism, drug use, and a cartoonish depiction of real-life people along with the spiritual quest of Jack Kerouac‘s autobiographical fiction.
The dog buried where Sutton thought was Mary Claire’s body was a wolfdog. A wolfdog (also called a wolf–dog hybrid or wolf hybrid) is a canid hybrid resulting from the hybridization of a domestic dog to one of four other Canis sub-species, the gray, eastern timber, red, and Ethiopian wolves.