Reading guide for She's Not There by Jennifer Finney Boylan

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

She's Not There

A Life In Two Genders

by Jennifer Finney Boylan

She's Not There by Jennifer Finney Boylan X
She's Not There by Jennifer Finney Boylan
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Jul 2003, 320 pages
    Paperback:
    Aug 2004, 320 pages

  • Rate this book


Buy This Book

About this Book

Reading Guide Questions Print Excerpt

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!

  1. Do you feel that Boylan had a choice in becoming a woman to the world?

  2. What responsibility does Jenny have for Grace and their children? What responsibility do they have to her?

  3. Have you ever known someone who made a gender transition? How did the change affect people who knew the person before?

  4. How central a role do you believe gender plays in our identity? How much different and in what ways do you believe you'd be if you were a member of the opposite sex? Do you think that some traits are inherent in one gender?

  5. Discuss Boylan’s experiences buying a car and buying a pair of jeans. Have you witnessed or experienced similar situations? Do you notice the differences in expectations and attitudes in the ways people of other sexes are portrayed?

  6. What role does humor play in Boylan’s life and in this book?

  7. The title of the book, “She’s Not There,” is the title of a song that Boylan sings. What do you think the title means in this case? Who is not there, and when?

  8. What is revealed about Boylan in her friendship with Richard Russo?

  9. As a teenager, Boylan believes that love will cure him from his feelings. In what ways is Boylan saved by love? In what ways do people usually expect to be saved by love? How often is it successful?

  10. Discuss the concept of “normal” as it relates to Boylan’s narrative, and to your expectations.

  11. On her web site, Boylan remarks, “As I look back at the story of my own life, I occasionally feel that being born transgendered was the best thing that could have happened to me. While dealing with this condition made life difficult for me, as well as for my family, it's also true that I have been given a rare gift in life, the gift of being able to see into the worlds of both men and women with clear eyes.” Do you feel that you know more about these worlds as a result of reading Boylan’s book?

  12. Boylan says that her first awareness of being transgendered occurred when she was about three. What do you remember about your earliest sense of your identity? How often do you feel that what the world sees in you is at odds with what you know to be true?

  13. After reading the book, did you identify with Boylan more or less than you had expected?

Suggested Reading

  • Jan Morris, Conundrum
  • Chloe Rounsley and Mildred Brown, True Selves
  • Natalie Angier, Woman: An Intimate Geography
  • Cynthia Eller, Am I a Woman? A Skeptic's Guide to Gender
  • Kate Bornstein, Gender Outlaw
  • Deirdre McCloskey, Crossings: A Memoir
  • Richard Russo, Empire Falls
  • Nicole Howey, Dress Codes: Of Three Girlhoods - My Mother's, My Father's, and Mine


Unless otherwise stated, this discussion guide is reprinted with the permission of Broadway Books. Any page references refer to a USA edition of the book, usually the trade paperback version, and may vary in other editions.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: That Time I Loved You
    That Time I Loved You
    by Carianne Leung
    Carrianne Leung was a Toronto Book Award finalist for That Time I Loved You as well as for her debut...
  • Book Jacket: The Pianist from Syria
    The Pianist from Syria
    by Aeham Ahmad
    Aeham Ahmad became famous as the face of Syrian suffering when a photo of him playing piano in the ...
  • Book Jacket: The Smiling Man
    The Smiling Man
    by Joseph Knox
    Joseph Knox's latest turns on a simple premise: an unidentified and unidentifiable murdered man is ...
  • Book Jacket: The Heavens
    The Heavens
    by Sandra Newman
    I've been a big fan of Sandra Newman's writing ever since reading her 2014 novel The Country of Ice ...

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    The Last Year of the War
    by Susan Meissner

    A little-known story of WWII with great resonance for our times.
    Reader Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    A People's History of Heaven
    by Mathangi Subramanian

    A story of love and friendship, and fighting for the places we love.
    Reader Reviews

Book Club
Book Jacket
Girls Burn Brighter
by Shobha Rao

An extraordinary and heart-rending tale of two girls with all the odds against them.

About the book
Join the discussion!
Book Club Giveaway!
Win The Summer Country

Win up to 12 copies to share with friends or your book club!

A sweeping epic of lost love, lies, jealousy, and rebellion set in colonial Barbados.

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

D T T! Full S A!

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.