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Book clubs  •  26 March 2024


What I Would Do to You book club questions

A stunning, thought-provoking debut to read with your book club.

Georgia Harper’s debut novel, What I Would Do to You, is a compulsively readable story set in a near future Australia. The death penalty is back, but if victims want justice, they must enact it themselves.

Full of family secrets, moral quandaries and deep questions about grief, punishment and justice, there is plenty in this book for your reading group to discuss.

Discussion points and questions

  • This book poses a big question about the nature of crime and punishment. Did you find yourself reassessing or even changing your own views on the topic at any point?
  • Did the background of the political and cultural debate over ‘survivor-led capital punishment’, as it is called in the book, remind you of any recent real-world issues? In what ways?
  • The Heathwood family are all vegan, despite the family farm producing beef cattle. How does this choice intersect with the issues at the heart of the novel?
  • Hannah undergoes various forms of preparation to toughen her body, mind and spirit. Can you imagine the ways you might prepare yourself for such a task?
  • Each of the members of the Heathwood family has a personal backstory that demonstrates the use, or misuse, of power. Which of the family members’ stories struck you the most?
  • Octavia has taken on an opportunity outside her comfort zone by agreeing to work with Lucy’s family, in the hope of reinvigorating her professional life. She struggles with the work at times throughout the novel. Can you imagine what Octavia would choose to do next? Would she continue with this type of work, return to the comfort of her practice, or perhaps choose to try something completely new?
  • What do you think the future looks like for Hannah after the end of the novel? What about Sebastian, Stella and Matisse?
  • The novel is set in a near-future Australia that is recognisable to readers of today but different in a number of ways. How likely are some of these societal and consumer practices, do you think?
  • What was the twist or reveal in the story that made you gasp, took you by surprise or had the biggest impact on you as a reader?
  • Lucy’s family all respond in different ways to her death. Which character did you most identify with in terms of how the crime affected them?
  • If you were asked to recommend a book to each character in the novel, what would you choose and why?
  • Non-human animals are a constant presence in this book. Was there an animal character or interaction that particularly stood out to you? What do you think the relationship between humans and animals says about us as a species?
  • How dark is too dark when it comes to crime fiction? Why do you think readers so often reach for thrillers and crime novels?
  • What would you do?

Feature Title

What I Would Do to You
A compulsively readable debut novel for those who could not put down Dirt Town or Before You Knew My Name.
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