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The Ex Files

A Novel About Four Women and Faith
By Victoria Christopher Murray

Reading Group Guide

    1. Pastor Ford forms the weekly prayer group by inviting four women who, at first glance, have little in common with one another. What is it about Pastor Ford that makes these women dutifully attend and find their mission without question? Why do you think she asks Sheridan to facilitate?
    2. Asia has invested ten years in her relationship with Bobby and becomes desperate when he announces their relationship is over. Why do you think she believed he would leave his wife to marry her? How do you feel about her conniving ways -- meeting Bobby, ensnaring him with a carefully planned pregnancy, confronting his wife, and ultimately making false accusations to Child Services?
    3. Do you think Child Services should let Asia keep Angel? Why or why not? What would the members of the prayer group think if they knew what Asia had done?
    4. Kendall can't forgive Sabrina for stealing her husband, Anthony. What other options does Kendall have for revenge besides withholding a bone-marrow transplant? How do you feel about Kendall's refusal to communicate with Sabrina even when she finds out her half sister is dying?
    5. What factors motivate Kendall to search for a viable bone-marrow donor and form the foundation anonymously? What do you think would happen next if the story were to continue?
    6. Sheridan is continuously torn between Brock and Quentin throughout the novel. Do you think it's possible to be close friends with the father of your children and still be able to move on and marry another? Do you think Sheridan is truthful with Brock when she says that Quentin is out of her heart, and do you think he's truly convinced? How do you think the death of her beloved father, Cameron, plays into her choices?
    7. Tori is ostracized by her schoolmates; her best friend, Lara; and Lara's mother after Sheridan discovers their exploratory kiss and the rumors about Quentin's infidelity. What do you think about Tori's suspension from school? Do you side with Quentin, who thinks suspension for fighting is unfair? Do you agree with his idea of adopting the Christian response of turning the other cheek, or with the principal's interpretation? Why?
    8. Do you think Sheridan agrees with the pastor's belief that homosexuals are not born with their sexuality? ("First of all, you know Quentin wasn't born that way, so neither was Tori" p. 168.) Do you think she blames herself for not anticipating, or perhaps even causing, Quentin's transgression? Or for Tori's kiss with Lara?
    9. Vanessa seems warm and solidly rooted, and to have so much promise in many roles in her life, especially as a daughter and a member of the community. Why does her death stun the others in the group so much? Do you think they could have reached out more? And, if so, would it have made a difference? And why do you think she saw no other path for herself?
    10. On p. 281 Asia asks, "How can they think about suicide? It's the unforgivable sin -- they're going to hell." Pastor Ford makes it clear that suicide is not the ultimate sin -- "if it was it would be in the Bible" -- but refers her to the passage that does reveal the ultimate sin. "Therefore I say to you, any sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven men, but blasphemy against the Spirit shall not be forgiven" (Matt. 12:31). What is the point that you think Pastor Ford is trying to make for Asia? And why?
    11. Why do you think Victoria Christopher Murray wrote the novel in a format that shifts among each of the four main characters' viewpoints for each chapter? Does it make the novel and each woman's story and motivations easier to follow? Why or why not?
    12. At the end of the novel, each woman has dealt with the dissolution of a relationship in her own way -- some with revenge, some with the help of God, some with the help of friends and family, and some with a bit of each -- but all have moved on. Did the prayer group's bond help the women? Could they have done more to help Vanessa?

    Enhance Your Book Group
    1. Pastor Ford is a great cook and loves to host dinners with Asia and Angel. Serve a feast that would make her proud!
    2. If you haven't been attending a club or group that you had once been a regular part of, try to attend a meeting or reconnect with some of your favorite members before your book group gathers and see how it feels to rekindle the closeness one can discover from a group with a mutual interest. For example, it could be a knitting, Bible study, or hiking group, or perhaps meeting with a group of friends you have not seen in a while.
    3. Read Grown Folks Business, the novel that introduces Sheridan and the Hart family. Discuss the author's writing style and how each of the characters has grown and changed.
    4. Go to www.victoriachristophermurray.com to learn more about the author and her novels.

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