If I Die Before I Wake Book Club: Discussion points

I had a great email this morning from a reader in Brisbane (hi, Carmel!) who has put If I Die Before I Wake forward for her Book Club next month.

She wondered if I could send her some questions for discussion during their meet-up. I didn’t have any prepared, but I’ve had a lot of fun thinking up some this evening.

I thought I might as well post the questions here, too, in case you’re reading If I Die Before I Wake for your own book club. I hope they get conversation and debate flowing (unless your book club is really just about drinking wine and having a chat, in which case, carry on!).

If you have read the book and have any other suggestions for the kind of topics or questions you would want to discuss, please feel free to post in the comments below or email me.

Here are the questions (NB. POSSIBLE SPOILER ALERT! I don’t give much away here, but you might want to read the book first…):

  1. Which character in If I Die Before I Wake would you most like to meet?
  2. How did Alex change through the story? How did your opinion of him change?
  3. How did you feel about the ending? Was it a surprise? Was it what you wanted to happen?
  4. Alex rarely sees anything, and when he does it is distorted – so he doesn’t often talk about people or current events in a visual way. Instead, he uses his other senses to describe what is going on. How did this affect the way you pictured the scenes of the novel?
  5. Which character(s) did you suspect of having tried to harm Alex? Why?
  6. Alex often copes with the challenges of his condition by retreating into his mind, into imagined worlds – perhaps most noticeably at the very end of the novel. What did you make of this? Do you believe in ‘mind over matter’? Have you ever had any experience of mentally overcoming pain or discomfort?
  7. Although the events in the novel are fictional, the kind of decisions Graham and Philippa face about Alex’s future are considered every day by families out there in the real world. What makes it particularly difficult for them is that they don’t have a clear idea about what Alex would have wanted. What would you want to happen, if you were in Alex’s situation?
  8. Alex talks about all the things he would do if he could live a ‘normal,’ healthy life again – eat a bacon sandwich, run through the streets in the rain… what are the simple pleasures you enjoy the most (or take for granted)?
  9. Different characters have different opinions about whether Bea should consider moving on and finding someone new. What do you think about her situation? Should she remain loyal, or consider her own future more selfishly?
  10. If you could ask the author of this book one question, what would it be?

3 thoughts on “If I Die Before I Wake Book Club: Discussion points

  1. I called “If I Die Before I Wake” (which I read in Dutch) “”Johnny Got His Gun” with a twist”. Are you familiar with this novel by Dalton Trumbo? If so, was it any way influencial for you? (One scene – in which Alex wants to concentrate what is being said in the room, but is reminded of warm thoughts about Bea, reminded me of one scene in that book.)


    • Hi René. Thanks for reading! I haven’t read Trumbo’s novel, or seen the film… but they look great, and I’m sure, as you say, there are some similarities, given the similar subject matter. Thanks for bringing my attention to it, I’ll check it out!


  2. Hi Emily, just finished this book, which I really enjoyed, just wondered why you decided on the ending, it seemed at one point Alex might be coming out of the coma. Although I think it was probably the right outcome, part of me is frustrated by the fact that no one knew what Alex went through. Very scary but interesting concept.


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