This reading group guide for Trial by Fire includes discussion questions and a Q&A with author J. A. Jance. 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.
Questions for Discussion
1. How does the advice that Ali Reynolds offers in her speeches at the high schools come into play in her own life? Do you believe she is being honest in the advice that she gives to graduates?
2. Ali admits that she does not really need any more money, yet she accepts the job with the Yavapai County Sheriff’s Department. Why do you think she does this?
3. Ali initially states that she and B. Simpson could never be together due to their age difference. What makes her change her mind?
4. Discuss the character of Sister Anselm. What were you initial thoughts about her and her “Angel of Death” moniker? Does she really live up to it? Why do you think she is so quick to trust Ali? Can she?
5. There is an underlying theme of allegiance throughout the novel –allegiance to people, to institutions and to beliefs. Discuss this in the scope of the following characters: Ali, Sister Anselm and Sheriff Maxwell.
6. The waiting room in the burn unit provides the perfect backdrop for many of the conflicts in the