Review: The Guest Room by Chris Bohjalian

Kristin Chapman agrees to let her husband, Richard, host his brother’s bachelor party.

Like most women, she knows what goes on at bachelor’s parties and expects a certain amount of salacious activity.

What she does not expect is this: excessive drunkenness, her husband sharing a dangerously intimate moment in the guest room, and two women stabbing and killing their Russian bodyguards before driving off into the night.

In the aftermath, Kristin and Richard’s life rapidly spirals into nightmare. Their home is now a crime scene, Richard is on leave from his job, and Kristin is unsure if she can forgive her husband 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.

I decided to read this book for review because it sounded very very different than most of the books that I read….and I was not disappointed, it was very different from books that I normally read but in a good way!

This is a book that really takes on the sex trade head on and puts it out there in a way that the reader cannot ignore. I have done a lot of historical research on women in the sex trade for my master’s program, so this book was very interesting to me from not only an entertainment perspective but also an academic perspective.

If sex trade or rape make you uncomfortable, then this may not be the book for you, however I will say that the grittiness and ‘in your face’ approach was well done and I didn’t feel put off to any of the material in the book or that it was ‘over the top’, instead I felt like Bohjalian was putting a realistic presentation of facts forward for the reader. The sex trade is a very dark, complex industry and I thought that Bohjalian did not try to ‘sugar coat’ or tell is with a slant….his writing was real and presentation authentic…’s an industry that is meant to disturb and this story was that, disturbing, but I greatly appreciated that this novel and the author’s tone was authentic.

This novel was also very fast paced. Things happened in a timely manor and I never felt like I was just ‘waiting around’ for things to happen. I felt like with every new chapter there was something pushing the story forward and it held my interest through till the end.

One of the things that I thought was most intriguing about the novel was the characters. You didn’t always love them and in many cases the characters did little to make you like them, but their complex stories did captivate the reader. Some of the characters made decisions about things that weren’t ideal and in many cases very very questionable but at the same time they made sense based on the characters themselves and the situations they were in…….almost like the lesser of two evils…..if that makes sense. Basically I was very compelled by the characters even though I didn’t always like them.

Bohjalian is an excellent writer and story teller. I have not read anything else by him, but I am intrigued by his abilities to tell such a gritty and versatile tale. I know he’s written other novels such as The Sandcastle Girls which seems very different than this novel so that indicates to me that he has strong abilities to spin unique and diverse stories. While this novel might not be for everyone, it’s a stunning read all the same.

Challenge/Book Summary:

Book: The Guest Room by Chris Bohjalian

  • Kindle Edition, 336 pages
    Published January 5th 2016 by Doubleday
  • Review copy provided by: Publisher/Author in exchange for an honest review.

This book counts toward: NA

  • Hosted by: NA
  • Books for Challenge Completed: NA

Recommendation: 4 out of 5

Genre: Contempo lit, thriller, suspense

Memorable lines/quotes: NA


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