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The Guest Room: A Novel Hardcover – January 5, 2016
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"Heartbreaking… Unexpected and refreshing… I won't give away of the surprising twists and turns that The Guest Room takes on the path to Bohjalian's daring conclusion; I'll only note that much of the pleasure that comes from reading any well-constructed narrative lies in trying to anticipate how the author will write himself out of seemingly inescapable corners. But here, for a change, we also have a novelist who seems more concerned with examining and dramatizing a much more universal question: whether, in the end, any amount of love or compassion, retreat or nobility or forgiveness, can overcome the remorseless workings of evil."
—Skip Horack, The San Francisco Chronicle
"The Guest Room [has] an edge-of-the-seat momentum that propels the reader straight to the last page... For those who value the well-researched novel, the author's 18th book will please… Promises to enlighten and entertain."
—Anita Shreve, The Washington Post
“Within the first few pages of The Guest Room, the latest novel by prolific author Chris Bohjalian, the booze-fueled bacchanalia that began as the fulfillment of men’s fantasies turns into a Helter-Skelter-like nightmare… Bohjalian, whose books often explore the contrast between surface lightness and the darkness that lies below, takes on upper-middle class America in this novel, ripping apart any illusion of safety or moral high ground in a headlong collision between the comforting rituals of suburbia and the viciousness of the Russian mob… [Bohjalian is] at his best in The Guest Room, one of his most compelling books so far, combining an explosive premise, a timely social topic, and fast-paced storytelling with a purpose."
—Amy Driscoll, The Miami Herald
"The book's real throbbing heart is Anahit, an aspiring young dancer from Armenia... The narrative's frequent somersaults from Anahit's devastating backstory to the Chapman family's more sheltered world is a remarkable artistic feat. . .a steely exploration of the very human cost of bachelor parties and other games of male pleasure."
—Eliot Schrefer, USA Today
"A story both global and intimate… Heartbreaking."
—Kate Tuttle, The Boston Globe
“Bohjalian’s deft and light-handed storytelling makes this book a compelling and captivating read. In particular, Bohjalian’s treatment of guilt and paranoia is realistic and downright scary. You will remember Richard and Alexandra long after the last page.”
—Tracy Sherlock, The Vancouver Sun
"A gripping story about suburban American lives ripped apart… It's hard to put down, or ever forget.”
—David Shaffer, Minneapolis Star-Tribune
"Well-written and psychologically astute... Alexandra is the conscience in this conscienceless world, a girl who manages to hold on to her innocence and compassion despite the horror of her life. Her voice, with its sometimes uncertain, quirky English, is rendered with such perfection that it’s easy to forget that the author is male. This, the book tells us, is what happens to the innocent... Enjoyable."
–Arlene McKanic, BookPage
"Hard to put down... Chris Bohjalian keeps readers turning each page... painfully honest... compelling."
—Amanda St. Amand, St. Louis Post-Dispatch
“While The Guest Room reads like a thriller, in Bohjalian's skilled hands it also reads as a stunning meditation on shame and scandal -- and on issues of trust and forgiveness that can make or break even a long-term ostensibly happy marriage… The Guest Room builds to a shattering -- and unexpected -- conclusion. This is a masterfully told, compulsively readable cautionary tale.”
—Amy Goodfellow Wagner, The Examiner
“Chris Bohjalian is a master at looking unflinchingly at morally complex human dramas and providing insights into the matrix of emotions and actions of his characters… Bohjalian does it yet again in his new novel, The Guest Room, with equal sure-footedness and compelling resonance. It is one of his most daring stories yet. He takes the reader deep into the darkest corners of illicit, international sex-slave trafficking in a riveting story about worlds in collision… Bohjalian subtly crafts reverberating echoes between the two stories…The ending comes with a shock but will also leave the reader sitting quietly for a long moment, attempting to take it all in.”
—Frank O. Smith, Portland Press Herald
"Superb...a stark reminder of the consequences when perhaps we don't listen to our better angels."
—Kelly Konrad, Chicago Now
"Suspenseful… It took all of our willpower to not bite off all of our nails as we tore through this dark thriller."
—Lynsey Eidell, Glamour
"This dramatic story is convoluted and thrilling, and nothing short of a page-turner.”
—Christina Wilkerson, Arkansas Traveler
"The Guest Room pulses quick as a page-turner, but its concerns run deep into the moral consequences following an eruption of violence in ordinary lives."
–Charles Frazier, National Book Award winning author of Cold Mountain
“A good man's momentary moral lapse plunges his happy, prosperous life into a nightmare of murderous gangsters and remorseless sex traffickers. Bohjalian's deftness as a story teller is on full display here, as he couples the urgency of a compulsively readable crime thriller with a quiet meditation on the meaning of family and relationships; the painstaking, quotidian, essential business of how we win love, and how swiftly we can lose it.”
—Geraldine Brooks, Pulitzer Prize winning author of March
“Gripping…Venturing into crime-thriller territory familiar to fans of Harlan Coben, Bohjalian’s page-turner about an average Joe caught up in sordid events beyond his control resonates with chilling plausibility.”
—Carol Haggas, Booklist
"Bohjalian catches a key social moment with a book that's fresh and different... a tale of scandal, shame, and escalating suspense."
—Barbara Hoffert, Library Journal
“Reads like a thriller...I did not see the end coming. Chris does a terrific job of exploring the very dark side of traffickbing and the women who are preyed on...Lots to discuss, and book clubs should take note."
—Carol Fitzgerald, The Book Reporter
“Bohjalian is at his best in The Guest Room, one of his most compelling books so far, combining an explosive premise, a timely social topic, and fast-paced storytelling with a purpose.”
—Amy Driscoll, The Miami Herald
“Bohjalian’s novel is a tightly constructed, sex-and-violence-driven thriller, but it’s also a check to the convenient ignorance indulged in by American consumers — of entertainment as well as goods.”
—Peggy Burch, Memphis Commercial Appeal
"The Guest Room is a page-turner in every sense of the word. From its very first page to an emotionally charged surprise ending, Bohjalian's fast-paced plot draws readers in and makes the book truly 'hard to put down'...Remarkable... A captivating and insightful read."
—Rupen Janbazian, The Armenian Weekly
“A devilishly good story. And this suspenseful crime novel, imbued with violence, bad decisions and families torn apart, may be Bohjalian’s best one yet.”
—Carol Memmott, Book Trib
About the Author
CHRIS BOHJALIAN is the author of eighteen books, including Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands, The Sandcastle Girls, Skeletons at the Feast, The Double Bind, andMidwives. His novel Midwives was a number one New York Times bestseller and a selection of Oprah's Book Club. His work has been translated into more than thirty languages, and three of his novels have become movies (Secrets of Eden, Midwives, and Past the Bleachers). He lives in Vermont. Visit him at www.chrisbohjalian.com or on Facebook.
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Top Customer Reviews
The plot is fast-paced and the characters are realistic. Chapters alternate between those told by Alexandra, one of the sex slaves, and numbered chapters that tell other characters’ points-of-view. This gives the reader intimate glimpses into each character.
This is a very sad story. Not only is it about the very real issue of sex slavery and the Russian mob, but it is also about the fragility of families. In addition, this story deals with the importance of self-respect and the difficulty to repair it once it is damaged. It is about a good man who makes one mistake. This one really makes the reader think.
tried reading The Sandcastle Girls and gave up after about 100 pages. I really did not like it at all and particularly hated the tense it was written in. I decided to give this author one more chance only because my favorite author (Harlan Coben) recommended this book. It is hard to believe that the same person who wrote Sandcastle Girls wrote The Guest Room. I was totally captivated by this story. Chris Bohjalian has written an emotional expose in novel form about human trafficking that will make you question your feelings about the "prostitutes" involved in this terrible business. He makes us aware of the heavy toll the sex slave industry takes on lives both here and abroad. I can't remember the last time a book actually brought me to tears. This one did. And for those reviewers who thought the nine year old girl was too wise for her years, I think they are out of touch with the times we live in. In this age of the internet, kids are a whole lot more aware than we give them credit for.
The plot of each story typically carries his topic of choice very well, and one (I) could conceive of it actually happening to someone: that is the beauty of his writing. I didn’t find him successful this time: as much as I hate to say it, I found that the intersection of those topics with “Russian mob guys” muddied an important story topic to the level of a cheap crime novel. A writer of Chris Bohjalian’s caliber could have made the story more convincing by replacing the Russian mob with common pimps, and accomplished much the same purpose in a far better way.
Additionally I found some of the American conversation sounded artificial and unrealistic. As for the Russian girls’ conversations: as I recall they were trained well in their country to serve as “courtesans” which one would think would involve very good language training - and while that certainly would not be at the level of someone born in the United States, it shouldn't sound like it was coming from Boris & Natasha in the old Rocky & Bullwinkle cartoon either - which it did.
Finally, pull out your dictionary when you read this book – I have an excellent vocabulary but there were several words I was not familiar with (some of which did not even appear in my Kindle dictionary) so I did learn something new.
Disappointed in this effort but he is still my favorite writer and I look forward to the next one.
The writing is superb but I was impressed with how the author took a touchy/difficult subject and turned it into a thought-provoking, realistic,
well written novel.
The story made me curious and I did some research on the subject matter. It's a sad and horrific way for girls to be treated and this is
a topic that needs to be brought out more into the open.
Authors like Bohjalian hopefully will promote more awareness of what really goes on.
As an avid reader, I'm quite happy to see there's many more other, gripping, novels he has written. I have now gone back to read
his debut novel, Midwives. And one chapter into it............I'm hooked! Can't put it down!