This reading group guide for The Placebo Effect includes discussion questions intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.
1.The prologue begins with Decker Roberts on the steps of an ancient cathedral in Chartres in 1988. It is there that he meets Brother Malcolm who asks him if he has decided to stay. Brother Malcolm offers to teach Decker everything he knows and in return, the cathedral and ministry will become Decker’s home. Brother Malcolm says, “It is another path, a way to avoid the room with no windows – and the hanging man” and Decker knows that he is telling the truth (p.3). Why did the author begin the story this way? What did this encounter with Brother Malcolm foreshadow in the story?
2.On more than one occasion Decker refers to himself by saying, “You are from them, but not of them.” If Decker doesn’t think he’s a synaesthete, then what is he? Why does he feel the need to put himself above others of ‘his kind.’ i.e. Mike Shedloski
3.There is significance in the number of religious buildings in Decker’s neighborhood and we are told they were built as a response to “feeling the evil” (p. 57). What evil are they referring to?
4.Decker has a strained relationship with his son. Although his son is like him