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This reading group guide forForever an Exincludes an introduction, discussion questions, ideas for enhancing your book club, and a Q&A with author Victoria Christopher Murray. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.
Sheridan, Kendall, and Asia first bonded when they met seven years ago at a church prayer support group and since then their friendship has blossomed into a strong sisterhood.
Sheridan has found love again after her ex-husband left her for a man. But old wounds are reopened when her ex-husband appears with his fiancée—a woman! Kendall’s husband is now married to her sister, Sabrina. And though Kendall has avoided them since this ultimate betrayal, she’s forced to reunite with Sabrina when their father is diagnosed with cancer. Asia has done her best to move away from Bobby, her married boyfriend and father of her eleven-year-old daughter. But when they share a kiss, old desires are rekindled.
Topics & Questions for Discussion
1. How does Asia reconcile her faith and her relationship with Bobby? Does her faith seem sincere to you?
2. Asia keeps her friend Noon separate from Kendall and Sheridan, yet all three seem equally important to her. How would Asia be different without Noon, or without Kendall and Sheridan?
3. Caroline admits to Asia that she planted the idea of moving to New York in Angel’s mind, yet Asia keeps that information to herself. What would you have done in her situation? Would you have moved to New York or allowed Angel to go?
4. After Angel catches Asia and Bobby together, Asia has trouble understanding why her daughter is upset, asking, “How had I become the villain?” How could she have handled the situation better? Do you think she becomes a better parent by the end of the novel?
5. While Angel, Tori, and Christopher seem to have made it through their parents’ drama without too many problems, how can Bobby, Caroline, and Asia work together better in the future? What about Quentin, Brock, and Sheridan?
6. Sheridan sees her ex-husband, Quentin, with his former lover Jett and informs Harmony, Quentin’s fiancée. What would you have done in her position? Do you agree with Brock that it was none of her business?
7. How would Sheridan and Quentin’s relationship be different if he had left her for another woman?
8. Pastor Ford gives a sermon on keeping secrets and declares that not all secrets are bad. Have you ever kept or told a secret and wished you hadn’t? If you could go back and change the situation, how would you handle it differently?
9. Do you agree with Pastor Ford that Kendall needs to forgive herself, not Sabrina, in order to live a full life? Would Kendall have built a relationship with Sabrina and her daughter, Ciara, had Sabrina had lived? Why or why not?
10. How do you feel about Kendall’s relationship with D’Angelo when they first get together? Do you think she would be better off with someone who is not so connected to Anthony and Sabrina? Or does his knowledge of her past help her overcome it?
11. D’Angelo says all of the roads in his life have led him to God, especially when he has had “a gun in [his] hand.” What do you think he means? As with Asia, consider how his lifestyle conflicts with his faith.
12. Each woman learns her own lesson and moves on from her ex by the end of the novel. What about the men in the novel? What would it take for Quentin, Anthony, and Bobby to learn their own lessons?
13. Each chapter of The Ex Files, which features Sheridan, Kendall, and Asia seven years earlier, shifts between the main characters’ points of view while this novel tells each character’s story before moving on to the next. Why do you think Victoria Christopher Murray changed the format for this novel? Which style do you prefer and why?
A Conversation with Victoria Christopher Murray
Why did you wait so long to revisit Sheridan, Kendall, and Asia? Is this a story you had planned to tell from the beginning?
I never planned on writing this sequel. In fact, I’m not that crazy about sequels. I know that’s hard to believe given all the sequels I’ve written, but my sequels are usually a response to the marketplace rather than what’s in my heart. I wrote Forever an Ex because The Ex Files was optioned to become a movie and I was asked to submit more “material.” So, compared to my other novels, it was tougher for me to write Forever an Ex. In the end, I was really happy that I went back to see what was going on with these ladies—and the men in their lives. And I’m really anxious to see what they’re going to do with the movie.
Do you have any plans to continue writing about these characters? Are the ladies finally over their exes?
I hope this is the end. I want to discover new people, new characters, and take my readers on new journeys.
If you were to write The Ex Files today, would you change anything?
No. Absolutely not. Once I’ve written a novel, I put that story to bed. That was the story at that time; that was the best that I could do at that time.
What is the message you want your readers to take away from Forever an Ex? Has that message changed at all from The Ex Files?
You know, I never write to a message . . . I just write stories. That’s it. I feel so great that readers take away messages, but the messages come at the end. The messages are not part of my writing at the beginning.
The scene when Angel walks in on her parents having “tech sex” was uncomfortable on many levels. Are scenes like this difficult to write? Why did you feel it was important to have the relationship come to a head in that manner?
That scene wasn’t uncomfortable for me to write at all. I’m just taking dictation for the characters when I write, so that was Asia’s drama, not mine. LOL. Asia lived her life recklessly without regard for other people and I wanted her to have to face her own demons. There is one thing that’s true about Asia: she loves her daughter. I wanted her to contend with losing the true love of her life. Also, in this world that we live in now, all of this technology lends itself to these kinds of situations. While I made up that scene with Asia, I bet it’s happened in real life. More than once. More than a hundred times. I have friends who have sent pictures to their husbands only for their children to find those pictures on their iPads. I hope that scene will encourage adults to be more careful.
Are any of these characters more difficult to write than others? Why?
No, no characters are more difficult than others for me. I’ve written about terrible people. But those people are not a part of me. They’re the characters I create; they’re not me. So I don’t have the kind of connection that would make it difficult for me to write them. All characters—good and bad—make up a good story.
How does your faith influence your writing? Is Pastor Ford based on any of your spiritual advisers?
Pastor Ford is completely based on my pastor, Dr. Beverly “Bam” Crawford. From the beginning, she’s been in my novels and she’s there as the voice of reason, the voice of God. When I joined Dr. Crawford’s church in 1995, my relationship with God flourished and it was because of her teachings and her preaching that I wanted to write. She released my gift. My faith will always be part of my writing because my faith is a part of me. I always tell people that regardless of what career I had chosen, everyone would not only know about but they would also see my faith. So the fact that it shows up in my writing is no big deal to me. It’s just who I am. My faith is my center.
You also write novels with ReShonda Tate Billingsley. How is the process of collaboration different from writing alone? Do you prefer one more than the other?
At this point in my career, I prefer writing with ReShonda. With more than twenty books on the shelves, it’s hard to come up with new, stimulating plotlines. But when I write with ReShonda, though we have to come up with stories together, I am challenged to keep up with her. The way we work is that I write a chapter, then she responds to it, then I respond, and so on. We never know what the other is going to do, so it’s a refreshing way to work. Every chapter is exciting. I love writing with her.
What are you currently reading? Does what you’re reading ever influence your writing? Have any books in particular made an impact?
I just finished reading what is probably one of the most important fiction books that’s been written in years: Anybody’s Daughter by Pamela Samuels Young. That book is amazing and every woman needs to read it with a young girl. Google it! As far as what I’m reading influencing my writing, I have my own voice so I can read and write at the same time and I do. I don’t have a lot of time to sit down and read, so I read daily on the elliptical machine. (That keeps me exercising!) But reading motivates me, challenges me to get better. I read for entertainment, but I learn from everyone. If I want to be a great writer, then reading is my job.
What is the best part of being on tour and getting to meet your readers?
I love touring, especially when I tour with ReShonda. Meeting readers inspires me! Readers are always so grateful that we’ve come out to visit them, but they have no idea how happy I am to meet them. Readers have no idea how they encourage us. Touring keeps me on top of my game and I love it. Many publishers and authors say touring doesn’t work, but I don’t know why—it works for me and ReShonda.
You have written both adult and young adult novels. How are they different? Which do you prefer?
I actually enjoyed writing young adult more than I thought I would and I wish I had the chance to continue. With my YA books, I knew that I was doing something important, something that was more than just entertainment. I did want my YA books to deliver a message. I did want the young girls to see characters who looked like them so that they could learn lessons. But while I love writing YA, my heart will always be with my adult novels.
Enhance Your Book Club
1. Read The Ex Files to see how Asia, Kendall, Sheridan, and Vanessa first became friends. Discuss how each of the characters has—or hasn’t—changed.
2. Take some time at the beginning or at the end of your book club meeting to check in with your fellow readers. Lend an ear and support your friends; you may be surprised to find out what else you have in common.
3. Pastor Ford wants Kendall, Sheridan, and Asia to share their lessons with the world. Think of what you have learned through your relationships and experiences with love and share with the group.
4. In honor of Kendall’s passion for her work, have a spa day! Find a local spa and enjoy some relaxation time with your friends.
Victoria Christopher Murray is the author of more than twenty novels including: The Ex Files, Lady Jasmine, The Deal, the Dance, and the Devil, and Stand Your Ground which was named a Library Journal Best Book of the Year. Winner of the African American Literary Award for Fiction and Author of the Year (Female), Murray is also a two-time NAACP Image Award Nominee for Outstanding Fiction. She splits her time between Los Angeles and Washington, DC. Visit her website at VictoriaChristopherMurray.com.