Descent by Tim Johnston – Bookies Book Club Review w/ Discussion Questions
While the Courtland family is on vacation in Colorado with their two teenage children, their daughter Cailtin is abducted while out for a morning run. What follows is a three-year nightmare while the already struggling family tries to move on. With no answers to what happened to Caitlin or even if she is dead or alive, each remaining member of the Courtland family battles this crushing weight in different ways.
Grant, the father remains in Colorado unable to leave the are his daughter disappeared from. He stays at a ranch helping out an elderly man, making attempts to move forward but nothing happens.
Angela, the mother, has returned to their home state of Wisconsin but deals with great depression. She lives with her sister after having had to sell their family home and has a hard time functioning from day-to-day.
Sean, the brother, now 18, the age his sister was when she was taken struggles with the guilt of having been with Caitlin when she was taken. What could he have done differently?
And Caitlin. Will they ever find her? And if they do, what exactly will they find?
I reviewed Descent by Tim Johnston last week with my opinion. This review is the thoughts of our book club as a whole and no spoilers 🙂
Descent brought out a lot of good discussion among our group. While some of us really found the storyline realistic and engaging, others pointed out things that did not seem to fit. There were questions of characters who suddenly did something completely out of their character which we all agreed did not fit, but some would argue that some things do not need to be revealed to the reader. Perhaps the author was giving the reader the feeling of “no control” and that not knowing what would happen could very well, as some argued, give the book a feel more real to life. After all… life is messy and try as we may to figure out how things are going to go… we never do really know.
It was mentioned that the book synopsis that we read from the book when we chose it was not an accurate synopsis, of what actually happens in the book. Some felt mislead to be told one thing and then read another.
Over all, on a scale of 1 to 5, 5 being the best, the ratings went from 2,s to 4,s and quite a few rating it in the 3’s (a standard read). It was one of those books that bring out a lot of thoughts, opinions, and discussion. We even reenacted a final scene (I can’t share… that would be a spoiler) when we questioned how one would do that. One girl in our group even had a similar story to share of something that happened to a friend of her sons while hiking. There is actually a book written about that true story, Bringing Jon Home by David Francis. A book that I ordered on Kindle this morning.
Why Would This Make A Good Book Club Read
Descent is a book that could have been ripped from the headlines. This leads to discussion like, “what would you do?” as well as discussion on how a strong family can be shattered by such an experience and a damaged family (such as the Courtland’s) have a good chance of falling completely apart.
If you look at reviews of this book on-line from some of the big name newspapers, New York Times, The Herald, etc… you will find diverse opinions, much like you can expect from a group read. The writing style can be thought of as brilliant, or annoying. (And in our group it was just that)
In the book, Sean is believed to be false when he is telling the truth. Discussion can be made over when that has happened in your lives, when you are telling the truth about something and you are either misunderstood, or believed to be false and the frustration of when your character is questioned like that.
Themes of hope, faith, depression, denial, and survival instinct are all represented within this read.
Food ideas… while not a lot of food is mentioned within the book, there is pizza at a birthday celebration, and Caitlin keeps snickers in her pockets when she runs for energy boosts.