|| Book Club || Shtum by Jem Lester ||

A bit about the author, Jem Lester:

  • This is his debut novel.
  • He was a journalist for nine years.
  • He was a high school teacher for nine years, teaching English and Media studies. 
  • He has two children, one of whom is profoundly autistic.
  • Many of the stories elements are based on truth, he and his former partner went through a similar court case with their local council to get their son an expensive residential program. Lester’s father also went through cancer around the same time.

Questions to think about:

  • How does this depiction of autism compare to your previous experience with autism, either in real life or through books and films?
  • Favourite moments? Highlights/lowlights?
  • This is very much a book about male relationships however there are some female characters. How were Emma, Ben’s mother and Jonah’s teacher drawn and was it successful?
  • At the end of the book we learn much more about George, how did you feel about what you learnt?
  • What did you make of Emma and Ben’s relationship? 
  • How did you take Georg’s final message to Ben?
  • How did you find the use of official letters throughout the book?
  • How does the fact that much of this is based on real life events change the way you read the book. Did you know that was the case while you were reading? Did the end note from the author have an effect on you?
  • Talk about your favourite scene.