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A Prayer for Travelers

3.46  ·  Rating details ·  387 ratings  ·  113 reviews
This daring debut novel propels readers into the world of Penny and Cale, two marginalized young women who forge an intense bond against a constricting backdrop of violence and isolation in Nevada's northern desert.

Cale, a bookish loner of mysterious parentage, was abandoned by her mother and raised by her grandfather in a loving, if codependent, household. One pivotal
ebook, 352 pages
Published July 9th 2019 by Riverhead
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Hannah Chisholm The chapters are alternating between Cale's past, present, and future. The earliest memories Cale shares are the lowest chapter numbers and the deeper…moreThe chapters are alternating between Cale's past, present, and future. The earliest memories Cale shares are the lowest chapter numbers and the deeper into the journey to find Penny that Cale goes, the higher the chapter number. These glimpses into Cale's past and hints at what is coming ahead make this book so interesting but definitely tricky to follow but be sure to read from cover to cover.(less)
Nicole I’m not sure if the information I’ll share will help you in way but I’m sharing just in case. I didn’t buy this audible version but “checked” it out…moreI’m not sure if the information I’ll share will help you in way but I’m sharing just in case. I didn’t buy this audible version but “checked” it out from the library. The files were available to download. I use my iPad to listen and there was note was attached to the files stating the files must be downloaded to adobe digital editions on a windows or Mac computer and read them there or transfer to a compatible ereader but they could be downloaded or read in the OverDrive app, Libby, or Sora. It became so frustrating just to get to this point I’m unsure if I’ll continue with it. I may put it aside a couple days and revisit. When I’ve gotten audiobooks with my audible account that included PDFs ( like Whiskey in a Teacup) they’ve been a breeze to find, open, and navigate right from my iPad.
Good luck!


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Average rating 3.46  · 
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 ·  387 ratings  ·  113 reviews

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3.0-3.5 Stars.

Your guess is as good as mine on whether another reader would like this or not. It's a love it or hate it kind of book.

I've seen some people compare this to Sadie and I'd say it's of the same vein. It's main characters are young girls, it's very dark and also unique. That's where the similarities end. In this book, Cale, is on a search to try and find her friend, Penny. Penny has just disappeared and no one seems to care. Meanwhile, Cale's guardian (who also happens to be her
Sep 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: literature, suspense
“A Prayer For Travelers” is Ruchika Tomar’s debut novel. It’s a literary mystery involving a loner teenage girl and her missing fearless friend.

Cale is that awkward girl in school who has no friends. She’s raised by her grandfather, Lamb, after her mother abandoned her. They live in a small town in Nevada near all night casinos and diners. Soon after graduating from high school, Lamb get very ill which upheaves Cale’s life. Lamb never was a hands-on parent, and with his illness Cale falls into
Jul 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book, about the friendship of two very different young women in a desert town so small its known only to those who live there. A quiet girl who cares for her grandfather on the land, sensitive to the small nuances of texture and love, and a brash, explosive girl trying to create a space of color and vivid life in the constricted limits of her existence. It reminded me of the dying town of the Last Picture Show, the same sand and trucks and neglected screen doors slamming in the wind, and ...more
Anne ✨
Jul 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow! I adored this gritty noir mystery/coming-of-age debut! It has gorgeous writing, a suspenseful edginess, and a Nevada desert town setting that drips with desolation and desperation.

The story is told in a non-linear format, slowly revealing out-of-order moments in the life of 17yr old Cale, who is searching for her friend Penny, who has disappeared. There's a strongly haunted feel, with a powerful build-up of tension and some startling twists and turns along the way. Themes of family, love,
Stacey A.  Prose and Palate
“The entire right side of my face was throbbing, but Penny still looked beautiful; her exquisite features unmarred. She bore no physical changes from the events of the evening, no by-product of terror beyond the characteristic flush of her cheeks. Yet it was her beauty that had been the catalyst for all disaster. It worked on men like a disease.”

I love books that push the envelope and challenge me, whether it’s through the content covered or the style in which the story is written. A Prayer
Oct 29, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An imaginative tale of the symmetrical and complimentary relationship between two female friends. There are those places deep inside where past pain and trauma lodge themselves. They may, in part, result in loneliness and alienation and/or in wearing a disguise and appearing to be having the time of one’s life. Two young women, superficially so different and yet so alike find one another. They gradually discover that some troubles and distress can be alleviated in learning to share the pleasures ...more
The blurbs on this book are so Literary and don't tell you that this is a mystery, told out of order, about a brown girl named Cale who is raised by her grandfather who becomes entwined with a brown girl named Penny who goes missing. They're close friends -- though we only kind of believe this to be true, as the friendship seems one sided -- so Cale wants to know what happened to Penny and why it is she disappeared.

Set in the west, in the desert, this well-paced, cleverly crafted, and gorgeously
3.5 stars. This book surprised me with Chapters numbered 31, then 2, then 5, then 3, etc., which usually really, really irritates me. But actually the numbering helped me to keep straight where in the story we were at all the different timelines. I also liked the grittiness of the desert setting (not as in sand in your mouth grittiness) and the friendship that developed between Cale (odd name) and Penny, two young women not long out of the school where they knew of each other but were never ...more
Megan P ☆

CW: sexual abuse/assault & violence (both in-text)

I really loved this but it wasn’t an easy read.

Pros: Absolutely excellent writing and atmosphere, with characters you deeply care about. I could visualize every face and place in this book with total clarity. It was a suspenseful story (The Sandman chapters actually had my heart racing) and made me want to keep coming back for more. It was also wholly unique. I saw someone compare it to a favorite, Sadie by Courtney Summers, and that
Sep 18, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've seen this book compared to Sadie, and it IS a lot like Sadie, right up until it isn't--in a very good way. I had no idea what was going to happen from one chapter to the next, and that disorientation made for a bit of a slow start, but once I settled in, it had the opposite effect and I was turning pages faster and faster.

Also, I asked my library to buy this book for their collection, and they did! I'm drunk on the power! :D
Bonnie Brody
Jul 13, 2019 rated it it was ok
While I found the writing quite compelling and poetic at times, this novel just didn't come together for me. This had nothing to do with the unique way that the chapters were not non-linearly laid out. For instance, the novel opens up with Chapter 31 and the next chapter is 2, and so forth. I was able to follow the story line but I just didn't find it all that interesting. It dragged out for too long with nothing much at all happening that held my interest.

Cale, the novel's protagonist, was left
Jamie Canaves
One Of My Favorite Reads This Year! (TW sexual assault on page/ terminal illness/ past child abuse/ talk of suicide with some details)

I feel like recently I’ve labeled a few books as unique and this one gets tossed in that pile too! The chapters are basically out of order–not in a confusing way at all, but basically the 1-whatever number of chapters were written and then it’s like they were reordered. You may be raising an eyebrow at me saying, “that does sound confusing,” but I promise it isn’t
Susie | Novel Visits
{My Thoughts}
I have so much to say about A Prayer for Travelers that I’m finding it difficult to know where to start. I loved Rochika Tomar’s very original, beautifully written debut. Let’s start with the most unusual way she told her story: mixing up the chapters. That’s right, Tomar told her story out of order. It began with chapter 31, went next to chapter 2 and ended with 76. I felt a little nervous about this. It seemed like it could be a bit of a gimmick, but instead it’s what made the
Anya Yurchyshyn
Jul 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A Prayer for Travelers is a deeply moving story about how hard it is--often literally--for young women to survive adolescence and the primal and indestructible bonds of friendship. I totally recognized Cale’s relationship with her best friend Penny and was as invested in it as they were. (Also, Cale's relationship with her grandfather Lamb was beautiful and broke my heart). The writing is rich yet controlled; the world was incredibly vivid, and I loved seeing it through Cale's eyes--the ...more
Linda Robinson
An excellent example of why there aren't more women road stories. And why timelines that bounce need to be tethered somehow somewhere.
Aug 09, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I don’t know wtf I just read or why I finished it
Aug 01, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
More stars if the story was linear instead of the chapters bouncing around. It made the story more annoying than interesting.
Jul 15, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I finished this one a while ago but am having trouble deciding how I feel about it. Writers today often write a narrative that jumps around in time, and Ruchika Tomar also employs this method. Some authors do this better than others. For the first third of the book I had trouble keeping up and if asked to rate the book at that time I would have given it three stars. The middle third of the book was gripping and at one point (can't remember when exactly) I felt this was a great book and that it ...more
Leslie Lehr
Sep 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A gem. Most literary fiction does not compel me to take the book along to read at the gym or at red lights, but the exquisite narrative in this novel made it a page-turner. Ignore the publisher's need to market this story in the genre of "coming of age" or with the buzzword of "female trauma." This tale sparkles with the multifaceted thoughts of a sheltered teenager lured outside to brave a brutal and unsheltered world by the tease of friendship.

The hardscrabble desert setting prompts the kind
Jun 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
When my brain starts to make connections between stories, it usually stays with in one medium. For example, I tend to compare books to books, movies to movies, songs to songs, etc. But every now and then, I’ll run across a story that jumps across media. That’s exactly what happened when I read Ruchika Tomar’s hypnotic novel, A Prayer for Travelers. This mystery, set in the north Nevada desert, reminded me strongly of Memento, The Long Goodbye, and, weirdly, The Big Lebowski (but only the mystery ...more
James Beggarly
May 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wonderful book where the author has scrambled the chapters so that we see two women who work at a diner become friends, but also follow the story of how one of the women goes missing and the lengths that the other woman will go to to try and find her. Tomar is such a smart writer with a delicious turn of phrase and sharp dialogue.
Aug 04, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is very well written. The author’s use of similes and metaphors strikes just the right balance allowing the story and the prose to open and create space for the reader. The timing is impeccable- I never found the story dragging or speeding too fast. The author also was quite adept at moving the reader around in time and never getting lost or losing her audience. Each chapter number indicates sequence and more importantly, the opening of each chapter contains enough landmarks and bread ...more
S.G. Wright
Jul 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
I'm somewhere between 3 & 4 stars ... and I'm still getting my thoughts together about what I thought of this novel -- which is about a bookish loner named Cale (around 19) who's been raised on little money in a desert town (near the Nevada/Calif border) by her maternal grandfather, Lamb. She has no friends or siblings but as she finishes high school, she becomes close to a charismatic, pretty girl named Penny, who gets her to work at the diner with her. They start hanging out and it appears ...more
Sep 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
an exploration of female trauma set in the desert with women of color protagonists & beautiful language yes yes yes
Catherine at The Gilmore Guide to Books
Cale doesn’t have a lot of people in her life. In fact, there’s only one since her mother left her in a hospital room when she was an infant. Her grandfather, a quiet old man who has no experience with children, who takes her to casinos while he gambles, but whose face, voice, and familiar smells are all she knows of love. It’s a small life in nowheresville Nevada until she meets Penny. Penny, the prettiest girl in her gang, a group of girls who pay no attention to Cale. It’s only when she ...more
Aug 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Gorgeously written, this story of the friendship between two young women and the mystery that envelops them is a page-turner. At turns violent and terrifying, then tender and understated, I was mesmerized from the opening to the closing of this fine read.
Jun 25, 2019 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Cátia Vieira
Aug 03, 2019 rated it liked it
Why should you read this book?
Two marginalized young women: Cale and Penny. Violence. Nevada’s northern desert. These are the crucial ingredients of A Prayer for Travelers by Ruchika Tomar. In this debut novel, Penny suddenly disappears and Cale sets off on a dangerous quest across the desert to find her friend.

I really enjoyed this novel. The chapters are displayed in no particular order but I think that gave rhythm and strengthen the book. I also think Ruchika Tomar built an impressive and
Aug 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book has everything I love about reading: exquisite prose, a dark and threatening mystery, a landscape that’s as much a part of the story as its human characters, and a unique and creative structure.

While it’s common to find a novel that bounces around different timelines, the scrambling of the chapter order is what makes this unique. I would love to read this again with the chapters in chronological order to compare the experience. Either way, this was one of my favorite reads so far this
Oct 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019
4.5. Still reflecting.
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