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Discussion Guide

Copy Boy: A Jane Benjamin Novel

By Shelley Blanton-Stroud

You think you’re a body, but you’re not—you’re a kind of electricity—though you’ve got to fill the right body to go anywhere, do anything important. That’s how seventeen-year-old Jane explains it to herself.


Manipulated by her mother and urged by the voice in her head of her dead twin brother Benjamin, she hits her father with a crowbar, leaving him for dead in an irrigation ditch and escaping to San Francisco. But in 1937, the height of the Great Depression, there are almost no jobs for girls, so Jane turns herself into Benny and gets hired as a newspaper copy boy.


She begins to climb the ladder at the newspaper, gaining validation, skill, and connections with the artists and thinkers of her day, until her father’s photograph appears on the paper’s front page, his arm around a girl who’s been beaten into a coma, one block from Jane’s newspaper—hit in the head with a crowbar.


Jane’s got to find him before he finds her, and before everyone else finds her out. She’s got to protect her invented identity. This is what Jane thinks she wants. It’s definitely what her dead brother Benjamin wants.


This discussion guide was shared and sponsored in partnership with She Writes Press. 


Discussion Questions

Use these discussion questions to guide your next book club meeting.

Scientists suggest that our experiences and those of our ancestors live on in our DNA, affecting our and our children’s health and behavior. Is that true for Jane? Can she escape biology or family history? Can any of us?

What influence does Daddy have on Jane? What do they have in common?

What do you think about Momma after learning about her childbirth at fifteen years old? Does this explain the way she treats Jane? Should Jane continue to tie herself to such a parent? Why or why not?