By: Chris Bohjalian
Publisher: Doubleday Books
Publication Date: 1/5/2016
My Rating: 5 Stars +
Top Books of 2016
From the New York Times bestselling author of Midwives and The Sandcastle Girls comes the spellbinding tale of a party gone horribly wrong: two men lie dead in a suburban living room; two women are on the run from police; and a marriage is ripping apart at the seams.
When Richard Chapman offers to host his younger brother's bachelor party, he expects a certain amount of debauchery. He sends his wife, Kristin, and young daughter off to his mother-in-law's for the weekend, and he opens his Westchester home to his brother's friends and their hired entertainment. What he does not expect is this: bacchanalian drunkenness, a dangerously intimate moment in his guest bedroom, and two naked women stabbing and killing their Russian bodyguards before driving off into the night. In the aftermath, Richard's life rapidly spirals into a nightmare. The police throw him out of his home, now a crime scene; his investment banking firm puts him on indefinite leave; and his wife finds herself unable to forgive him for the moment he shared with a dark-haired girl in the guest room. But the dark-haired girl, Alexandra, faces a much graver danger. In one breathless, violent night, she is free, running to escape the police who will arrest her and the gangsters who will kill her in a heartbeat.
A captivating, chilling story about shame and scandal, The Guest Room is a riveting novel from one of our greatest storytellers.
A special thank you to Doubleday and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Chris Bohjalian delivers another gripping page-turner suspense, THE GUEST ROOM -- a mix of crime, psycho, and mystery thriller. From moral consequences to the raising of awareness of the exploitation of our teens across the world, in an all “too realistic” and timely story-- a series of violent events which could happen to any American family today.
When a suburban family crosses with a deadly remorseless human trafficking and sexual slavery ring--innocent people are caught in the cross fires. Life and family relationships, as they know it will never be the same, after one night of destruction-- a simple bachelor party spirals out of control. Violence enters a safe home.
Told from the POV’s of three well developed characters:
• Richard Chapman-- the good upstanding prosperous husband, investment banker, and loving father.
• Kristin Chapman-Richard’s wife, a remarkable woman, a history teacher, and a mother of their nine-year-old daughter, Melissa.
• Alexander (Nevart)—a young Armenian woman taken against her will at age fifteen; held captive all these years. Brought to America, now nineteen-year old sex slave, held by the underworld of dangerous Russian gangsters. (a sad emotional back story)
Richard and Kristin have a good and prosperous life in the burbs. They have an upscale home, status, art, and material possessions. A good marriage with a nine -year-old daughter, Melissa who has the best of the best. She is guarded from life’s ugliness. Richard is an upstanding citizen, and partner at an investment firm.
Richard’s younger brother —Philip, has no morals (total jerk). He works in the hotel business and some of this friends, mainly Spencer - bad news. He is getting married and Richard is his best man. Spencer has taken care arranging the strippers for his party.
Richard decides to host the bachelor party at his home. He thinks it will be a safer cleaner night, (right)? with the guys at his home, versus a club, so he can control things. Kristin his wife, knows there will be the possibility of a stripper; however, she thinks a dance or two, drinking, and then the guys will go home—guys do this all the time. Harmless?
Kristin and Melissa are staying overnight in Manhattan with her mom and they plan to go home the following day, and by then Richard will have the house back, in order.
Unfortunately, Richard's well laid plan spirals out of control. A nightmare. Who could have imagined?
Two strippers show up at the party with two Russian bodyguards. Richard thinks they will help keep things under control. However, things sexually get out of control, things go too far, the girls are young, and the next thing he knows there is a blood bath all over his living room---two murdered Russians, stabbing, gunshot, and the two girls take off. All their lives are in danger -- his house is now a murder crime scene.
In reality, the two 19-year-olds from Armenia, abducted as teenagers, held captive as sex slaves in Russia throughout their adolescence, and then brought to New York City where the captors know their value as sexual assets will soar. They are held hostage. They now have escaped; however, you do not just escape from these dangerous men. They own you.
Soon Richard’s marriage is strained, his life is in shambles; his daughter does not respect him, his wife does not trust him. The community, his business, his clients …. all in ruin. The kids at school are talking bad about her family. The scandal, the shame, and the disgrace. Sex, crime, drunkenness, murder. Now sex trafficking. How could this have happened? Even though he confides in his wife, can his wife really trust him and what really went on in the guest room? Did he have sex or did he want to? To further complicate, someone has a video and blackmailing begins.
Richard is haunted by this girl who got away. What is her story? Her sad eyes. He thinks of his own innocent daughter. These girls were not ordinary strippers. How can he help? Why can’t the girls escape these evil men?
Wow, this is one fine novel! Movie-worthy. A master storyteller, Bohjalian delves into the relationships of family, love, betrayal, forgiveness and redemption. Intense. You cannot put it down. You come to care about the three main characters. You sympathize with their circumstances. Not only do you want a husband like Richard, you want to be his wife, Kristin. Your heart goes out to Alexandra’s complex story -- you want her to escape and get the help she needs.
Unfortunately, it is all too real today --around us everywhere, masked in many ways with numerous disguises. These girls did not willingly sign up for this life. They were innocent children.
Many parallels: Good versus Evil
• Barbie’s: The innocence of the young girl, Alexandra with her Barbie dolls, similar to Richard’s own daughter’s Barbie dolls. How Melissa’s room with Barbie’s were tainted with the ugliness. How Alexandra came to attain these dolls. Her parents, grandmother.
• Dancing: Her dreams of dancing as a young girl just like Melissa. How dancing led her grandmother to put her in the care of this madman.
• The Guest Room: While Richard is in the guest room of his own home, being sexually tempted by this mysterious young woman, his wife is in the guest room of her mother’s Manhattan apartment, when she receives the call about the double murder at their home, now a crime scene.
• Bachelor: Also the American dream references of the show, The Bachelor. The fairy tale --compared to the ugliness of realistic Phillip’s bachelor party and the girls' horrific situation.
The author does an outstanding job with the sex-trafficking topics, his in-depth research--prominent among our everyday lives. How the two connect -- an innocent family—a sex trafficking ring. How these men use their vulnerabilities to their advantage; and reel them in, not knowing they cannot trust them or escape. Some are so young, as Alexandra, she thinks this is a family friend.
The Guest Room one of my Top Books of 2016—My hope is more authors will join fight against sex trafficking --address these issues, to raise the awareness of human trafficking and sexual slavery, even fiction as well as non-fiction. A wake- up call to parents and teens, as well.
Urge readers to visit the author’s website to learn the inspiration behind the book, and for more detailed information about sexual exploitation around the world. The figures are alarming.
Quickly making my way though the author's back list of books via audio!
Buy the Book
Read the Advance Praise
One of the issues the novel touches upon is human trafficking and sexual slavery. Want to learn more? Visit the Coalition to Abolish Slavery & Trafficking. Read More
About the Author
Lincoln, Vermont’s Chris Bohjalian is the author of 18 books, most of which were New York Times bestsellers. His work has been translated into over 30 languages and three times become movies.
He has a new novel arriving on January 5, 2016, "The Guest Room," a story of a human trafficking, a marriage in crisis, and two remarkable women.
The paperback of his most recent novel, Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands, was published in May.
His books have been chosen as Best Books of the Year by the Washington Post, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Hartford Courant, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, Kirkus Reviews, Bookpage, and Salon.
His awards include the ANCA Freedom Award for his work educating Americans about the Armenian Genocide; the ANCA Arts and Letters Award for The Sandcastle Girls, as well as the Saint Mesrob Mashdots Medal; the New England Society Book Award for The Night Strangers; the New England Book Award; Russia's Soglasie (Concord) Award for The Sandcastle Girls; a Boston Public Library Literary Light; a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award for Trans-Sister Radio; and the Anahid Literary Award. His novel, Midwives, was a number one New York Times bestseller, a selection of Oprah's Book Club, and a New England Booksellers Association Discovery pick. He is a Fellow of the Vermont Academy of Arts and Sciences.
He has written for a wide variety of magazines and newspapers, including the Washington Post, Cosmopolitan, Reader's Digest, and the Boston Globe Sunday Magazine. He was a weekly columnist in Vermont for the Burlington Free Press from 1992 through 2015.
Chris graduated Phi Beta Kappa and Summa Cum Laude from Amherst College, and lives in Vermont with his wife, the photographer Victoria Blewer. Their daughter, Grace Experience, is a young actor in New York City. Among the audiobooks she has narrated is Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands. Website