Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group | October 2016 | 336 pgs
Source: Library

This book explores the horrors behind human trafficking, prostitution and how one night will send a family (or two) into destruction.

When Richard Chapman decides to host a bachelor party at his house for his younger brother, Philip, before his big night weeks later, he thought it'd be a night filled with entertainment and a few harmless fling among the men (well not him, he thinks). His wife and their nine-year-old daughter are off at his mother-in-law's for the weekend and he knows life will be back to normalcy come the new week. But things are not what they expect; the party has gone horribly wrong and two men are dead in Richard's living room. The two girls they have hired (so called strippers but are in fact sex slaves under a mobster's ring) are believed to have killed their Russians bodyguards before fleeing for their lives.

While we have Richard's and the full story told in third person, we also get to read about Alexandra's story through her narrative in between the chapters. Alexandra's story is a sad one; filled with her bittersweet dreams of becoming a ballerina and how she was tricked into selling her body for the sake of survival. She was fifteen when she was abducted by her late mother's ex-boss; Alexandra and her grandmother thought he was doing his late employee a favour by taking care of Alexandra's welfare. By the time they left Moscow for America (Alexandra is actually an Armenian) she realised it was all a well-planned scheme and there was no escape.

The Guest Room was a riveting read as it was fast paced and has the intensity of a thriller. There are villains here, but they are more "behind the scenes" and there is no easy or straightforward answer behind some of the issues raised in this story. I also liked how the author infused this story with some humanity and morality; while there are despicable characters, there are also characters whom you couldn't help but to feel sorry for them. As this story revolves around human trafficking and prostitution, it was heartbreaking to read about Alexandra's story (as well as a few girls who suffered the same fate as her) and how terrifying her story reflects the reality even in today's world.

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14 Responses
  1. Iliana Says:

    I had checked out this book from the library sometime last year but didn't have time to read it. It sounds really good and I'm always impressed by this author. He seems to really take on such different subjects in his books.

  2. jenclair Says:

    Hardly a day goes by without human trafficking making the news. So many sad stories about the abuse of women and children.

  3. Melody Says:

    Iliana - It was an intense read and I liked the author's writing style. Will have to check out his other books.

  4. Melody Says:

    Jenclair - Indeed and it's all so sad and heartbreaking to read.

  5. Kay Says:

    Yes, I remember reading about this book last year maybe? Know that several read it then. I really need to read some books by this author. I know I would like them. This one sounds sad and scary.

  6. Marce Says:

    I really enjoyed this one also. I have to say his books are becoming automatic reads for me. I must go back and read his popular ones. I have read 3 or 4 now.

  7. Lark Says:

    Wow. This does sound like an intense read. Bohjalian really seems to have a knack for writing books like this one; I definitely need to read more of his stuff! I'm almost embarrassed to admit that I've only read The Sandcastle Girls, but Skeletons at the Feast is on my TBR list! And now this one. :)

  8. Melody Says:

    Kay - I was intrigued after seeing several reviews of this book last year and it's been on my wishlist then. When I saw it in the library I knew I've to read it.

  9. Melody Says:

    Marce - I've heard each of his book is different and after hearing so many raves about them I know I've to check them out.

  10. Melody Says:

    Lark - Yes, he has a great writing style and almost all his books consist of issues which make us think. As I mentioned, I need to check out his other books. :)

  11. Anonymous Says:

    I thought I'd left a comment here, but maybe it didn't go through?

    Anyway, I love Chris Bohjalian's books for the most part,ranging from very good-excellent. I've read most of his titles by now, but not this one nor the Sandcastle Girls. I prefer his contemporary fiction so I've had this on my wishlist. I should check my library next time I go.

    I know right away that it deals with a sad topic and some parts might be hard to read, but he does justice to real-life situations covered in his plots. By the way, I have a signed copy of Water Witches from when I lived in New England, where he lives. A valued part of my collection!

  12. Melody Says:

    Rita - I didn't receive any notification about your comment here so yes maybe it didn't go through. :(

    I love reading about books with real life situations; most of the times they're insightful and thought-provoking and I like to think beyond of the issues mentioned. This is the first Chris Bohjalian book I read and I already love his writing style. And yay for the signed copy of Water Witches! :)

  13. I meant to read this book last year, but never got to it. Human trafficking is just one of the many things my agency takes on, more so in recent years. This sounds like a very thought provoking book.

  14. Melody Says:

    Wendy - I'm sure the topic will make it even harder for you to read, Wendy. It's always break my heart to read about the girls and women who go through this scary experience and worse of all, cannot escape their life of such sufferings.

    I've heard that Chris Bohjalian's books are always different and thought-provoking so I'm going to explore his other books too.

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