The informal discussion at the book club quite interestingly coalesced into four specific themes.
- Everyone agreed that this book was not something they would have picked up ordinarily, whether because the genre is outside usual reading patterns, or because the narrator (a 15-year old boy) is not an usual narrator. Interestingly however, everyone really liked the book.
- Everyone also found the book sad. For some people it was due to the abandonment of Christopher by his mother, whilst others felt disconnected from Christopher himself. A repeated refrain was the sense that he ‘wouldn’t get better’, even as everyone acknowledged both that the (understandable) ‘betrayal’ by his mother probably emotionally resonated more with the reader than him (due to personal experiences) and that he seemed fairly upbeat at the end of the book … in so far as he had an emotional response to anything.
- The violence towards the dog split the group. Whilst everyone agreed that cruelty to animals is reprehensible, there were those that felt that the violence towards an innocent animal precluded feeling sympathetic towards Christopher’s father, whereas others could understand (NOT condone) the enormity of pressure that could drive an ordinary person to commit heinous acts out of character for them.
- The language was the topic of lively discussion: the list-making (which found echoes in the readers’ private superstitions and rituals), the metaphors, the literary devices, the expletives, the (unintentional) humour contained in the inflection-less tone which would have been deadpan humour in any other narrator.
- Christopher’s journey to London
- Christopher’s reunion with his father after having been at the police station
- The detailed maps/plots