1. There is an act of betrayal at the heart of this novel, with repercussions for all. Did you find yourself taking a side in this betrayal? Did your allegiance to a particular character’s point of view ever shift?
2. James is an important mentor for Carlisle. Have you had a mentor in your life? How do you feel they impacted the person you’ve become? Was there a moment when this relationship altered?
3. Bank Street is a character in itself. Discuss the property both as a place and as a metaphor. What meaning does Carlisle ascribe to it and how does that meaning change throughout the novel? Was there a place, a group, or a setting, you longed to join as a young person?
4. What do you think of when someone says “ballet”? Was there any description about the world of dance and dancers in the book that surprised or resonated with you?
5. What does it mean to you to be an artist? What does it mean to be a successful artist? Are these important distinctions?
6. As a young person, Carlisle has quite different relationships with each of her parents. Do you think we have different expectations of mothers than we do of fathers? How does Carlisle view her relationship with her mother over the course of the novel?
7. They’re Going to Love You is partially set during the AIDS Crisis. How familiar are you with these events? How does Carlisle experience them as someone who is tangentially involved but very much an outsider?
8. James suffers from depression. How much of this does Carlisle understand and how much can she be expected to understand throughout the novel and as she grows up? Has depression, yours or someone else’s, impacted your own life?
9. Discuss the complicated dynamic between James and Alex. What do you think is the nature of their relationship? Were any lines crossed?
10. Carlisle talks about dancing in a man’s shoes. What does this mean to her? In what way has her life as an artist been impacted or limited by her gender?
11. Forgiveness is a major theme of the book. Do you think it’s easier to forgive, or be forgiven? Discuss the role of forgiveness in your own life.