Thursday, March 17, 2016

A Loss of Innocence | The Guest Room by Chris Bohjalian

This is another review for a book I read in January! This book is a little different from what I usually review since it's an adult thriller instead of YA or NA. 

*I received an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.

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.

*Released January 5th 2016 from Doubleday*
My Thoughts
My first impression of this book wasn't that great. It took me awhile to warm up to it. I wasn't into the writing or Richard (who the third person POV focused on). I was a little bored, but didn't stay that way for long. Things picked up quickly and I ended up liking it much more than I thought I would. My last impression was WAY stronger than the first one. (Tears were involved.)

Alexandra's POV made me get much more into the story. I liked how the book was set up where the chapters focused on Richard, his wife, his family, his lawyer, even--anyone affected by how the Bachelor party went--and sections between each chapter focused on Alexandra's story. Getting to know her--who she was when she was little, how she became a sex slave, how being a sex slave was like, how she ended up at that party, and all the rest--was...tough. It was like reading Little Peach by Peggy Kern again, which was a really ugly, but eye opening book that focused on child prostitution. Her heart truly went out to this girl for all that she had to go through. It wasn't fair. It just wasn't. And it makes me even more sad knowing that her story wasn't one of a kind.

There was quite a big focus on innocence. I couldn't help but compare Alexandra and Richard's nine year old daughter. This book would've been way different without Melissa. There still would've been a big impact, but it may not have been quite as heartbreaking. Melissa was very young and innocent. But she was also at that stage where she was growing out of dolls and knew enough about sex to understand (maybe not fully) what happened at her house. Alexandra was at a similar stage in her life when she got pulled into sex slavery and there were flashbacks to her childhood that reminded me of Melissa. Alexandra had her innocence ripped away from her and having Melissa in the book made that loss of innocence even more jarring. It was really, really sad. Melissa could easily have a life like Alexandra's. It could happen.

The Guest Room is an unfair, ugly story dealing with sex trafficking and innocence. It's well worth reading, even if it takes you awhile to get really into the story. I highly recommend giving this one a try!

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