The lost prayers of Ricky Graves was my Kindle First pick for November, 2017. The story is a retrospective of the aftermath of a tragedy which befell a small New Hampshire town, unfolding through six different points of view: Harriet Graves, Ricky’s mother, a single mom a little too self-absorbed in being a good mother to really notice what’s actually going on with her kids; Alyssa Graves, Ricky’s sister (eight years older), who has her moments of closeness with her brother, but the age gap is too much to really call them close; Corky Meeks, Alyssa’s ex-boyfriend and Ricky’s camp counselor and sometimes mentor; Jeremy Little, Ricky’s online chat buddy and possibly Ricky’s one attempt to reach out for help; Mark McVitry, one of Ricky’s tormentors and a survivor of the event; and Clarie Chang, a casual acquaintance of Ricky’s who makes a halfhearted attempt at friendship, as much of an attempt as a teenager can manage without having her popular friends know that she’s doing it.
The story is very poignant in its realness. How many times have we witnessed the pain of another, but don’t reach out to them because of the walls they erect around themselves or the walls we erect around ourselves to protect ourselves from having their problems bleed over into our lives and the possibility of us becoming the victims of their tormentors or the target of derision from our friends?
Jeremy’s ex-boyfriend, Craig, sums it up fairly well when he refers to social media interaction as “a digital tapestry of unanswered prayers.” But on closer inspection, the characters don’t even have to go online to see this “enormous wall of human misery.” It’s all around them. But somehow it’s easier to pretend that it’s no big deal; that it isn’t even there. Until the tragedy of reality shoves it in their faces.
For the most part, the characters in this book are not very likeable, not even Ricky. But they are very real. And they are us. And it’s the journey to forgiveness, for not doing enough, for not being enough, that makes this an unforgettable story.