Reading Guide

Discussion guide for The Never Prayer by Aaron Michael Ritchey (contains spoilers)

1. What do you think of Lena’s decision to run drugs for her boyfriend early in the novel? What aspects of Lena’s situation might help to keep her sympathetic?

2. Discuss the significance of the red purse. What does it symbolize? How does it tie into the concept of red in literature and history, particularly for women?

3. The book contains many instances of religious imagery and allusion. What are some of these references?

4. One reviewer said this: “Recently, I’ve been on a run of books that have challenged my preconceptions that young adult fiction is ‘just for kids’. I’m happy to say that “The Never Prayer” fits right in…” Do you agree?

5. What is the nature of God in The Never Prayer? What is the role of angels and demons? What do you think of Chael’s atheism? Compare and contrast this with other literary representations of the structure and nature of heaven.

6. How does the author’s use of names comment upon the characters? (Magdalena, a figure from the New Testament who is often represented as a prostitute redeemed by Christ. Chael, short for Michael, Hebrew for “Who is like God?”, Michael is the enforcer of God’s will, etc.)

7. A quote from Aaron Ritchey, the author. “I get asked this a lot—how do you capture what it’s like to be a teenage girl since you’ve never been one? The short answer is that being human is more important than being our gender.” How do you think he did writing from the perspective of a teen girl?

8. “Sometimes life was pushing. Sometimes life was letting go. And sometimes it was both at once.” What do you think of Lena’s realization?

If you’re interested in having Aaron visit your book group, school, or church group, please contact Aaron at

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *