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This Is My Life Reader’s Guide

By Meg Wolitzer

This Is My Life by Meg Wolitzer


Questions and Topics for Discussion


The third book by New York Times-bestselling author Meg Wolitzer (originally published as This Is Your Life), a smart, witty and perceptive novel about the daughters of a female stand-up comic who watch as their mother struggles to balance her career with the needs of her children.

Dottie Engels, comedienne extraordinaire, performs her act in Vegas and on late-night TV. Her two daughters, Opal and Erica, live on the periphery of her glittering life, seeing her on the television screen more often than they do at home. But when Dottie’s ratings begin to slide, it takes both her daughters to save Dottie from herself.

Displaying Wolitzer’s signature style that combines keen observations, compassion for her characters, sharp humor, and a strong social hook, This Is My Life expertly captures the uncertainties of adolescence and the trials of growing up in the shadow of a mother who is caught between the conflicting pulls of fame and family.


Meg Wolitzer’s previous novels include The Wife, The Position, The Ten-Year Nap, and The Uncoupling. She lives in New York City.

  • In what ways do you think Opal and Erica Engels are changed or defined by having Dottie Engels as their mother? How might they be different people if they’d grown up in a more stereotypical family?

  • This Is My Life was originally published in 1988. Can you see the passage of time in the world that the author, Meg Wolitzer, describes here? Would Dottie’s challenges as a working mother in New York City be any different today? Would the girls’ experiences of her work and ambition be any different today?

  • If you’ve read any more recent Meg Wolitzer novels, can you see a continuity of style or theme between that book and this novel from earlier in her career?

  • This Is My Life became the first book that famed filmmaker Nora Ephron made into a movie. Why do you think she was drawn to this book in particular? If you’ve seen the film, how do the book and film differ? What qualities-beyond the characters and the story-persist?
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