• Dr. Dawn Harris Sherling

Book club discussion questions are here!

Not Quite Dead is a book club must-read and as the Wine and Words members have taught me, hosting book club is all about food, drink, and comfortable seating. There just isn't time to come up with questions. That's the author's job. So, after a couple of requests, here are the official Not Quite Dead book club discussion questions:


1. Autumn and Cassie are portrayed as two young women who are quite different from one another. Autumn is just beginning her training. Cassie is towards the end of hers. Do you see their differences as a product of their personalities or of medical training, or both?


2. The author of the novel takes a great deal of time explaining medical conditions and procedures. Did you find these portions of the book enjoyable or tedious?


3. We don’t really get to know Jay in the novel and yet the story revolves around him. Did this pose a problem for you in getting into the story? Would you have liked to have gotten to know him better before he wound up in the hospital or do you feel that you were able to get a sense of him through the recollections of others?


4. The novel brings us on a journey through the hospital and the range of emotions felt by patients, their family members, and their caregivers. What emotions did you experience reading Not Quite Dead?


5. What were your impressions of a hospital’s Intensive Care Unit before reading this book? How did your impressions change after reading this book?


6. When did you figure out who wanted to harm Jay? If it was before it was revealed, what led you to this conclusion? Were there any other plausible suspects?


7. No one figures out what is wrong with Jay until it is too late. Do you think that the characters could have done anything differently that would have revealed his diagnosis sooner? If a medical error was made in his case, who should be held responsible? Is there always a responsible party when there is a medical error? Why or why not?


8. At first Autumn seems to be a not terribly competent physician, who improves along the way. At what point in her training would you feel comfortable with Autumn caring for you or a family member? What do you think about the process of how doctors are trained?


9. The doctors and nurses in Not Quite Dead are not always portrayed in a positive light. Has this novel changed how you view end-of-life care, doctors, or hospitals? Did you come away with more or less positive feelings towards doctors and/or nurses after reading the book?


10. Cassie seems to be becoming increasingly dependent on the Xanax that she originally got from a patient. If she wouldn’t have received that original supply, do you think Cassie would have found another way to deal with her troubles? Why do you think she is so reluctant to get professional help or talk frankly with any of her colleagues?


11. The doctors in the book seem to have so little hope for their patients while the families seem to have so much more hope that things will improve for their loved ones. Why do you think there is so great a discrepancy between doctors and family members? How can this gap be bridged?


12. Were you happy with the ending? Do you wish that Jay had somehow been saved? Do you think that would have made the book more enjoyable? Why do you think the author made the choice not to save Jay?


13. Mr. Schafer still wants Autumn to be his doctor even after she reveals that she was the one who had made the error that caused him to have the bad reaction to the medication. Do you think this is realistic? Do you think most patients would have the same reaction as Mr. Schafer did? Do you think most doctors would admit their error to the patient?


14. Where do you see Autumn, Mark, and Cassie’s careers and lives going after residency? Do you have a positive or negative impression of where they might end up?

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