Saturday, April 16, 2016

THE GUEST ROOM by Chris Bohjalian

Publisher:      Doubleday
Published:     January 5, 2016
ISBN:        978-0385538893
Genre:      Contemporary Fiction
Format:     Print  
Obtained via:  Library
Reviewed by name and email address:  Gina


Thinking he’s doing the right thing by his younger brother Richard Chapman agrees to host his younger brother’s bachelor party at his home.  Richard has built a nice life for himself.  A stable life with a wonderful wife, Kristen and daughter, Melissa, he adores.  His brother, Philip, has always been a tad irresponsible but still, family is family.  Suspecting things might get a tad wild, at least with a stripper involved in the festivities, Richard sends Kristen and Melissa to stay with her mother in Manhattan.  But it’s not just the two strippers who show up for the party that causes the party to spiral out of control.  When one of the women lashes out at the bodyguards sent to accompany them and kills him in a violent rage followed by the death of the second man, Richard’s life begins to crumble.  In a matter of moments he stands to lose his wife and daughter, the job he thrives in and so much more. 

Meanwhile the strippers escape…it appears their profession was far from one they chose themselves.  Terrified and alone but for themselves they find themselves navigating the streets of Manhattan—trying to avoid both the police and their captors.  The lives they knew and the ones they were promised become more and more divergent as they try to survive. 

THE GUEST ROOM is the first book of Chris Bohjalian’s I’ve read.  It will not be the last.  What a fantastic and compelling read.  I picked it up because the blurb sounded so interesting.  It sounded like a thriller with maybe a hint of noir.  It was much, much more.  The blurb and promotional quotes do not begin to cover the depth of this story. 

Told in part first and part third person the story takes you into the life of a man who has tried to do and be the right thing.  Someone who is stable, reliable and decent.  It then takes you more deeply in the frightening world of sex trafficking and the violence that accompanies it.  Parts of Alexandra’s story were incredibly painful to read because it is not entirely fiction.  I work with a woman who is completing her masters in the area of finding ways of protecting victims of sex trafficking and when I spoke with her about different aspects of Alexandra’s story she added to the horror that can happen to a young woman…or child…caught in the web this character was. 

I didn’t see the ending company…an incredibly sad and disturbing ending—yet so well done.  This isn’t a happy or feel good book—but it is one that you do not want to miss if you are looking for a really good read. 

This is an objective review and not an endorsement of this book.


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