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The Guest Room

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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.

336 pages, Hardcover

First published January 5, 2016

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About the author

Chris Bohjalian

38 books11.4k followers
Chris Bohjalian is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of 24 books. His work has been translated into 35 languages and become three movies and an Emmy-nominated TV series.

Look for his next novel on March 19, 2024: THE PRINCESS OF LAS VEGAS. (Yes, you can preorder it as a hardcover, eBook, or on audio wherever you buy books.)

The paperback of THE LIONESS went on sale this summer. It is already in development for a limited TV series from e One and Marsh Entertainment. A luxurious African safari turns deadly for a Hollywood star and her entourage in this riveting historical thriller, about which the New York Times wrote in its spring preview, "Bohjalian steers this runaway Land Rover of a story into some wildly entertaining territory." The Boston Globe wrote, "Bohjalian, one of our finest storytellers, weaves his spellbinding magic."   

Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, and Booklist all gave it starred reviews.

His 2021 novel, HOUR OF THE WITCH, is a tale of historical suspense set in 1662 Boston, a story of the first divorce in North America for domestic violence -- and a subsequent witch trial. Diana Gabaldon in her review in the Washington Post called it "historical fiction at its best." Danielle Trussoni in the New York Times called it "harrowing."

His 2020 novel, “The Red Lotus,” is a twisting story of love and deceit: an American man vanishes on a rural road in Vietnam and his girlfriend, an emergency room doctor trained to ask questions, follows a path that leads her home to the very hospital where they met, and is also in development for a TV series. In the New York Times, Sarah Lyall called it, “Terrific. . .[an] elegant noose of a plot. . .Bohjalian is a pleasure to read. He writes muscular, clear, propulsive sentences. . .As suspenseful as it is, The Red Lotus is also unexpectedly moving — about friendship, about the connections between people and, most of all, about the love of parents for children and of children for parents. Bohjalian is a writer with a big heart and deep compassion for his characters.”

His 2018 novel, “The Flight Attendant,” debuted as a New York Times, USA Today, Wall Street Journal, Publishers Weekly, and National Indiebound Bestseller. It is now HBO Max TV series, starring Kaley Cuoco.  Season two landed in April 2022.

He is also a playwright and screenwriter. He has a new play, "The Club," arriving at the George Street Playhouse in February 2024, 

His other plays include his adaptation of his novel, "Midwives," and "Wingspan," (originally called "Grounded").

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 Walter Cerf Medal for Outstanding Achievement in the Arts; 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; a Best Lifestyle Column for “Idyll Banter” from the Vermont Press Association; 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 New York Times, 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 C

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 3,728 reviews
Profile Image for Emily May.
1,993 reviews298k followers
January 30, 2016
Everything, it seemed, was unraveling.

I've been seeing a lot of hype for Bohjalian's new thriller - The Guest Room - and it even made it into Goodreads' most read books of the week. The author was unfamiliar to me, but I decided to pick this up because I personally can't resist the call of the latest juicy thriller.

And that's just what this book is. It wouldn't be fair to sell this as something life-changing, or genre-defining; it's just really not that kind of book. What The Guest Room is, however, is a fast-paced, utterly gripping story of family, sex slavery, and the disgusting levels that some people will sink to. I couldn't put it down.

This is the kind of book that opens with thrills and an enticing narrative voice, then continues to pack punch after punch. From gory action, to some well-crafted emotional scenes, it's one of those stories that makes you furious. And fury is my Achilles heel with books. If you can make me angry at the events, and/or the despicable people, then I'm invested until the end.

The story starts with a bachelor party gone horribly wrong. Firstly, the erotic "dancers" quickly turn into something far less legal; a fact which will haunt Richard Chapman and his family for a long time after. But that's not all. Because, in a bizarre twist, the dancers suddenly turn on their bodyguards, racing out of there and leaving two bloody corpses behind.

From then on, the narrative is split between Richard and Alexandra (one of the dancers). Richard's tale is of the aftermath of the party and how his possible infidelity affects his marriage. Richard, his wife, and their daughter must all adjust and try to continue with their lives while the investigation into these "dancers" reveals ever more shocking truths.

Alexandra's perspective tells of her life up until that moment. Young, screwed up and afraid, Alexandra's life story is a horrifying tale of naivete, false hope and lies. It's hard not to get caught up in it.

If you enjoy engrossing, gritty thrillers about some of the most despicable, selfish people (not all of them who you'd expect), then The Guest Room should be a new favourite.

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Profile Image for Deanna .
691 reviews12.5k followers
September 25, 2016
My reviews can also be seen at: https://deesradreadsandreviews.wordpr...

4.5 Stars

After seeing so many positive reviews of The Guest Room I just had to read it. This is the first book I've read by Chris Bohjalian.

The book opens to Richard Chapman speaking about how he had presumed there would be a stripper or two at his younger brother Philip's bachelor party. It bothered him a little bit that it was in his home but he didn't want to be a downer. He tells us that when he thinks about strippers he prefers to think of girls may be earning some extra money for college etc.

His wife Kristen agreed to let him host the party. Of course she was not going to attend said party but instead was taking their younger daughter, Kristen and her mother to a Broadway matinee. After that they would be staying over at her mothers for the weekend, not planning to return home until Sunday.

When the girls arrive along with Russian bodyguards, the men at the party are told that there should be no videos or pictures taken. They indicate that if these rules are broken, the cellphones as well as the offending fingers using the cellphone will be broken.

The men talk about how it will be a night to remember.

Oh it will definitely be memorable....

*** Possibly very minor spoilers ****

How did it all go wrong? Only the men at the party are able to give their version to police.... because the talent? The talent was gone. And the Russian bodyguards? Well they were dead.

This book was gripping to say the least. Some parts were very upsetting and hard to read but I could see how they were important to the story. Human trafficking is a very real issue and honestly some parts of the story made me so sad. Some parts also made me so angry. Angry that this is going on everywhere!

"There is a chance that the little eye candy you had dancing around your living room were not prostitutes. They were underage sex slaves. Big difference"

There may be times where the story seems a bit farfetched. However, while some of it is definitely feasible, it's almost like a "true story" movie. Where dramatizations are added to the story to try and keep readers engaged. In the end though it is a book of fiction, so not everything will be probable or likely to happen that way in real life. Thank goodness many of the books I've read wouldn't happen in real life! Of course a reader wants to be entertained and so writing a story, trying to make it exciting and entertaining without going too far overboard that people find it too unrealistic? I would bet that it's often quite hard for writers to find that balance.

I thought that the story was well-written. I liked that there were multiple points of view and thought it added to the story. I especially thought the daughter Melissa's point of view was interesting. Her view of all that was happening, her parents arguing, wondering what kind of trouble her daddy was in, and what she read on the internet was so confusing. "Alexandra's" point of view was hardest to read, but essential to the story. I found it emotional and heartbreaking. I also thought that the character development was great. I hated Spencer and really disliked Philip. Poor little Philip, it was always someone else's fault....I REALLY wanted to punch him in the face.

I was really invested in the story and the characters and had to see how it all ended. The fact that some of what went on in the story really does happen is absolutely heartbreaking. I think that the author told a really good story.

I will definitely be reading more from Chris Bohjalian.

The Coalition to Abolish Slavery & Trafficking. (CAST)

Girls Education and Mentoring Services (GEMS)
Profile Image for Elyse Walters.
4,010 reviews606 followers
April 5, 2016
Chris Bohjalian hit the ball out of the field with this book -- It might even be my favorite
book he's written....and damn, I love many of his books!!!

Instantly the storytelling grabbed me. I inhaled this novel- I finished it a couple of weeks ago -and have already discussed it so much - I forgot that I hadn't written a review.
Distraction - other books - leaving town- Brain atrophy? Ha...well, anyway... My brain must work well enough...because this novel is sticking with me like permanent glue.
OH... and the cover of the physical book is gorgeous - lovely to touch: silky smooth!
I enjoyed reading the hard copy! ( even though I whined about not being accepted for an early read - when I've bought 'dozens' of Chris's books in the past--brought guests to see him 3 different times who also bought his books. I had been hoping for 1 freebie early read.
Oh well, money spent. I love my physical book! All is well!

There is an 'added' heart connection about the character, Alexandra, (Anahit), the young Armenian girl in this story. She came from the most authentic creation from Chris, ....one that really 'does' break my heart.
If you've read "The Sandcastle Girls", you not only know that it's an historical fiction story during a horrific time in history - the Armenian genocide- but you also learned about Chris's personal Armenian family history. We understand with much compassion of why writing "The Sandcastle Girls" was important to him. Everything about what happened to soooo many people from Armenia is just sad as can be.
.... The movie will be released this year!

Back to The Guest Room...( and Alexandra)
I thought it was natural that Chris would have Alexandra be Armenian. Immediately her heritage struck a cord with me...( I was back re-visiting "The Sandcastle Girls")...
but there is an even deeper reason for the creation of this young girl bring Armenian.
Chris was in Armenia - a few years prior to this book's release. He spotted a young girl - around the same age as his own daughter who he believed to be an escort. That moment broke 'his' heart. That's when I believe 'this' novel began.....( the ongoing inner voice creating of storytelling)

Chris gets an A++++++ from me for the most engaging storytelling with this new novel. Readers will have reactions. ( we are suppose to). It's a PERFECT book club pick. Might help us sort out our frustrations with the disturbing reality of sex trafficking.

I did need to suspend belief --( somewhat anyway)--that a wife would agree to allow her husband to throw a Bachelor party with strippers at her house --knowing what she knew about her brother-in-law. No way would that happen in 'this' house...
however, I didn't really care... I was inside 'that' house - in those rooms - with those characters... I was in 'book-reading-gone-gone-haven-land'.

Darts started flying for the Chapman family after one party spins way out of control....
and keeps spinning ... and spinning....( each character is fully developed....enough for book groups to talk about for hours).

I wouldn't have wanted to miss reading this book for all the tea in China! ( and I love Chinese tea)!

Profile Image for Carol.
1,370 reviews2,157 followers
March 1, 2016
3.5 Stars

This story is a combination of nightmare and horror show with a bachelor party gone wrong and young girl's dreams turned into a life of fear and abuse at the hands of so called businessmen and their disgusting dirty work.

With unrealized promises of freedom, the victimized young girls take matters into their own hands ending in a bloody disaster and turning one man's life into a living nightmare.

Richard Chapman was not a bad guy, he had a great job and loved his family, but he made a big mistake. He never should have gone up to THE GUEST ROOM.

Good book. Tough subject matter. Unexpected ending.

(I also thought CB gave way too much away in the summary on this one.)

Profile Image for Jennifer.
1,746 reviews6,672 followers
February 2, 2016
The Guest Room is a standalone, literary fiction novel written by Chris Bohjalian. This novel touches on a number of topics related to marriage, family, and trust, but the overall theme is human trafficking. Fortunately, there is more and more awareness being brought to this ever-present crisis and Mr. Bohjalian wrote a very plausible example of how some girls may end up in this modern-day slavery.

In terms of enjoyment, I don't think The Guest Room is intended to be enjoyed. All this topic can really offer in my opinion is perspective and education, and rightfully so. Mr. Bohjalian has written multiple POV's that show the various angles of the commercialized sex trade industry. One particular POV offers the dark and gritty real life individual and family consequences that could come with supporting trafficked services (even if you may not know your entertainment for the evening is a victim). Another offers a start to finish look at a victim's involuntary career as a sex slave. Mr. Bohjalian ends these POV's with beautiful heartbreak that reminded me just how invested I managed to become in these characters and that there may be hope afterall for some of these victims.

I left this reading experience wondering how many times human trafficking has been the invisible wallpaper behind the eye-catching advertisements for “girls girls girls”. It leaves me feeling broken-hearted, angry, and overwhelmed. But it doesn't matter how we feel, it only matters what we do. So raise awareness by learning then teaching the indicators of human trafficking, report suspected cases to professionals, and donate time, talent, and resources to credible organizations charged with prevention/intervention.

If you want to learn more, check out Mr. Bohjalian's website where he has provided statistics as well as additional links.

Note: Overall, I did not enjoy the audiobook experience. There are two narrators. I liked the narrator for the male lead character: Richard and his family, friends, etc. but there is a separate narrator for the focal human trafficking victim: Alexandria and that narration drove me crazy. It is horrible in my opinion - I wanted to skip her sections but that would have defeated the purpose of experiencing the book. I wish the first narrator had done all the narration. She happened to narrate Alexandria's voice a few times during Richard's POV and it was great. Just thought I would throw that out there.

Profile Image for Diane S ☔.
4,782 reviews14.2k followers
December 16, 2015
2.5 Richrad thinks he is doing his younger brother a big favor when he agrees to host a bachelor party as his house. A trashed house, two dead thugs, two young stripers missing, blood every where and his entire life, his marriage, his job, his relationship with his daughter all in jeopardy, is not what he expected. He finds out the hard way, that one night, a wrong decision, trusting those he shouldn't has severe repercussions.

I have thought about what to say about this novel, why for me it was just okay but not one of my favorites by this author. I think possibly it is all a matter of perspective, for me I has little sympathy for Richard, though he somewhat redeems himself by the end of the novel. The author does present different sides of this tragedy, Richard's wife and daughter and also goes into the lives of one of the girls. Yet, I felt his handling of the sex trafficking crisis was handled lightly, in fact for me this book lacked depth. Was very tired of hearing about how bad Ben felt, his brother I detested and though of course I felt sorry for the poor girls I wish more of the story would have centered on them.

I am sure many readers, and some all ready have, will like this more than I did. This was a good read, just wanted more. My spoiler was kind of the clincher for me and led to my rating.

Profile Image for Lori Elliott (catching up).
746 reviews1,792 followers
November 25, 2015
This is a very 'in your face' look at the sex trafficking trade... examined from different points of view. I have two teenage daughters, one being the same age as Alexandra, and this has pushed to the surface so many societal fears I have for them. There are so many lessons to be learned. This is not a perfect novel, however, the fact that it has garnered such a strong reaction from me attests to the strength of Bohjalians writing.
Profile Image for Bren fall in love with the sea..
1,596 reviews288 followers
September 13, 2020
“If you were Bill Clinton, how did you justify Monica Lewinsky to Chelsea? What did you say about the cigar and the beret and the little blue dress? If you were Anthony Weiner, how in the world did you explain to your daughter your apparently insatiable need to text pictures of your junk to strange women?”
― Chris Bohjalian, The Guest Room

All Richard wanted to do was help out his brother. Brother was getting married and Richard was throwing him a bachelor party.

And with a bachelor party, usually comes strippers.

And sure enough… There are two at this particular party which is actually taking place at Richard’s House.

And they bring their security guards.

All Richard wanted was to help out his brother. He had no idea by the end of the evening, there would be two dead bodies in his living room, two missing strippers and police swarming all over his house.

The guest room is really not so much a mystery as it is sharp and well-crafted literary fiction that highlights the subject of human trafficking. It is an excellent book, well written, with vivid characterizations and a riveting plot.

The story is told from multiple points of views including Richard’s and one of the sex slaves. It is a deeply tragic and viscerally moving book that I don’t believe many people will forget after they read it.

So why only three stars? That is going to require the use of spoilers. But before I get to that point, I will say I’ve been conflicted about books before but probably not as conflicted by any book this year as much as this one.

To say this was hard to rate is an understatement. It’s a book I can describe as fantastic in its way but it’s also a book I like rather than adored. I think there are some reasons for that but if you haven’t read this I urge you not to read below the point where I list spoilers.


This was quite a dark book and I would’ve liked an ending that was wrapped up a bit tighter. For example, why did the vehicle not drive away immediately after they fired the first shot? How did they know nobody would see the license plate number? Really, why was it necessary to kill Richard off at all? I read a lot of Shakespearean type of books and I am used to dealing with dark endings but this just seemed like a plot twist for the sake of being a plot twist.

And it was really the only time I felt this book was a thriller/mystery. Most of the time I felt I was reading high-quality literary fiction. But at the end it was very gimmicky.

I felt, with her pulling him into the house and then him going out to check on her, It started to feel more like a typical mystery which I never really felt it was before.

And I like Richard and whether it is selfishness on my part, I really didn’t want him to die. Plus, honestly I knew he was going to die earlier in the book because we were not given just foreshadowing, we were basically told when we had that premonition that he wasn’t going to see his daughter at her wedding. It left no doubt in my mind at the moment that Richard was a goner and I kind of didn’t like that.

I am glad in a way that the writer foreshadowed this because it would’ve shocked me otherwise and not in a very good way, but I still felt he should’ve survived. I mean so many other people in the book were dead that I really don’t think it was too much to ask for a moment of light.

And I really wanted to know how his wife was thinking and feeling and we never really got a wrap up of that. I would have liked the conversation between the two women to be a little more in depth.

What the book does so well is Highlight the issue of human trafficking in a way that is deeply moving, unforgettable, and unique.

It really does succeed in lifting itself up to be far more than a typical thriller and I would encourage everybody to read it.

So in summary… This was a well written book and I am going to look for more books by this writer because I really love the writing style and the story was intense. I was let down toward the end but this was still a good read and one well worth reading.

Thank you Emily for your fantastic review which is what convinced me to read this in the first place.
Profile Image for Chris Witkowski.
414 reviews21 followers
January 16, 2016
It is hard to believe this is the same author who wrote Midwives, Before you Know Kindness or the Law of Similiars, books that deftly handled controversial issues and were filled with interesting, likable characters. In The Guest Room Bohjalian is again exploring a hot button issue, in this case, the world of sex traffickers and the poor victims caught in their web, but the book is plain and simple pure drivel. Not one character worth caring about, an absurd plot, a nine year old girl who, given her background, knows way too much about sex, and an Armenian victim who describes her life in perfect English except for an occasional smattering of Eastern European dialect. The only reason I finished the book is because I bought it. Once again I realized I should have used my public library. I could have ended my misery a quarter of the way into the book and been a few dollars richer.
Profile Image for Jennifer.
350 reviews395 followers
June 7, 2016
I recommend you read this book.

It may not be entirely enjoyable. In fact, you might feel rather uncomfortable at times (I certainly did). But if you're uncomfortable, that means Bohjalian's story is striking a nerve.

In The Guest Room Chris Bohjalian tells the story of a bachelor party gone very, very wrong (might this book do for bachelor parties what the movie "Fatal Attraction" did for affairs?...) It's a book about poor judgement, bad decisions, and worst case scenarios. It's a book about facing up to the consequences of one's actions, a loss of innocence, and acceptance. But layered on top of Bohjalian's excellent writing and thriller-like plot development, "The Guest Room" is really a book about the horrors of sexual slavery.

Through the characters of Alexandra and Sonia -- Armenian girls kidnapped in their very early teens-- Bohjalian delivers a heart wrenching tale about the very dark side of human trafficking. It's not easy to read -- and unfortunately it's all too real.

Bohjalian also requires the reader to think deeply about sexual politics. What is acceptable male behavior? Female behavior? " Tell me -- what is worse? The man who sells a girl, or the man who buys one?"

"And even if they hadn't been abducted and coerced into the work, the truth is no one becomes a prostitute because she wants to. It's always the occupation of last resort."

For those looking for more information, Bohjalian has resources on his website about human trafficking (scroll to the bottom of the page)

And how sadly apropos that I finished this book just days before the latest scandal involving a sexual assault on campus -- where once again a perpetrator is given a wrist-slap and can't see that he did anything wrong during his "20 minutes of action."

4.5 stars

Thank you to Netgalley and Doubleday for a galley of this book in exchange for an honest review. Note: although I was given a galley, I listened to the audio version of this book, which was excellent.

Profile Image for Dianne.
567 reviews934 followers
May 15, 2016
This surprised me - I thought this would be a hard-hitting, visceral look at the sex slave industry and it turned out to be more of a light thriller. Meh. I'm the outlier here; most Bohjalian fans liked this more than I did. It was interesting but....I felt like more could have been done with this disturbing topic and the characters could have been better developed and less stereotypical.

Liked it, didn't love it.

Profile Image for Barbara.
1,393 reviews4,902 followers
March 11, 2022

Richard and Kristin Chapman - fortyish, happily married, and living in upscale Bronxville, New York - are the ideal couple. Richard is an investment banker; Kristin is a high school history teacher; and they get along great with their 9-year-old daughter Melissa - who loves movies, fancy tights, and dance classes.

Richard's brother Philip, a hotel manager who's the 'gray sheep' of the family, is about to get married and Richard decides to host a bachelor party in his home. Kristin accommodatingly takes Melissa to Grandma's house for the night.

This lets the boys get on with the fun....but it turns out all this is a bad idea.

The groom's friend Spencer - who organizes the party - hires a couple of strippers named Sonja and Alexandra to entertain the guests. It turns out the 'strippers' (translation...prostitutes) are exotically beautiful Eastern European waifs who've been forced into the sex trade by Russian mobsters. Thus, the gals are accompanied by two strapping bald bodyguards armed with guns.

To cut to the chase: the party guests get VERY drunk and the entertainment progresses from stripping, to lap-dancing, to touching....and then to full on to sex for some of the men. And straight-laced Richard gets carried away and takes Alexandra up to the guest room - where he does some things he's ashamed of.

After Richard and Alexandra return downstairs, things REALLY get out of control. Sonja grabs a knife from the kitchen and viciously attacks one of the bodyguards, the girls get hold of a gun, the other bodyguard gets shot, and the girls take off in the car that brought them - leaving two dead Russians behind.

The cops descend on the house, the party guests are questioned at the police station, and - in the following days - Richard has to face Kristin, his daughter, his bosses, and so on.

The story is told in the rotating voices of Alexandra (stripper), Richard (husband/host), Kristin (wife), and Melissa (daughter). Thus, we learn something about the history of the characters as well as what's going on with them after the party.

Alexandra grew up in Armenia, studied ballet, and - at the age of fifteen - was tricked into going to Russia to 'become a ballerina'. Instead Alexandra was brutally raped and forced to become a prostitute ('sex slave'), along with other coerced young girls. Eventually, some of the girls were taken to New York to work.

Trouble ensued, the Russian criminals feared exposure, and Sonja thought the bodyguards planned to kill her after the bachelor party. So she took the bull by the horns...... And now Alexandra and Sonja are on the run, being sought by the Russian mobsters and the cops.

Richard is embarrassed and humiliated after news of the 'sex party' and murders goes public. Having previously been a faithful spouse, good father, and reliable employee he now has to deal with a furious/hurt wife, a bewildered daughter, and censorious bosses. To add to Richard's troubles, someone with illicit photos tries a spot of blackmail.

Kristin has to face her advance placement history students, who - along with their parents - worry that all this will somehow affect their AP scores and college prospects (this reaction is so true....it made me smile). Kristin also obsesses about Richard doing something (she's not sure what) with a prostitute, her daughter's worry and distress, and her tainted, bloody house.

Melissa doesn't quite understand what happened, is concerned about her father, and fears her parents might get a divorce.

Some of the most engaging scenes in the book are narrated by Alexandra, in good but quirky English. I was drawn in by Alexandra's descriptions of growing up in Armenia with her mother and grandmother, the food they ate, the many Barbie dolls she owned, and her love of ballet.

On the down side, the depictions of sex trafficking, and what Alexandra was forced to do (not too graphic) were disturbing. The idea that women are used like that - and develop a sort of Stockholm Syndrome and go along with it all - is terrible to think about.

Alexandra talks a lot about her country, and in one scene she describes a horrific earthquake that devastated an Armenian town before she was born. This was enlightening but had almost nothing to do with the plot and pulled me out of the story. It just didn't seem to belong.

Overall, I liked the book very much. It's well-written and tells a compelling and suspenseful story. It also has a broad range of engaging characters that act like real people. Highly recommended.

You can follow my reviews at https://reviewsbybarbsaffer.blogspot....
September 13, 2020
Richard Chapman, a well-heeled investment banker who lives in the suburbs with his teacher wife and young daughter, agrees to host his irresponsible younger brother’s bachelor party at his home, a party that involves entertainment by hired strippers. What could possibly go wrong? The girls are probably college-aged and working on the side for a little fun and tuition money. What’s the harm? This bad idea turns into a nightmare when the party turns into a night of debauchery and drunkenness, and the strippers murder their Russian bodyguards and go on the run. This all happens in the first few pages. From here the story is told from multiple viewpoints: the Chapmans, which includes Richard, his wife Kristen and his daughter Melissa, as well as one of the strippers, Alexandra.

Richard’s life is now in shambles, both professionally and personally, and it’s revealed the girls aren’t strippers but sex slaves who are fleeing their captors. The author did his research on the sex trafficking trade and Alexandra’s story is a heartbreaking one. The girls are being hunted by both the police and the Russian mob, so there’s an element of a thriller as well.

Bohjalian sheds light on the seemingly victimless “entertainment” of strippers….how many men consider that these girls may not be at their job willingly? And how many “regular” guys, the guy next door with a wife and family, see this as harmless entertainment? Why isn't more being done about sex trafficking? All compelling questions, but I felt drawn out of the story every time Alexandra’s story was told.

The other issue is I couldn’t buy the premise of Richard or his wife agreeing to host a party with strippers. The wife was OK with staying at her mom’s for the night with her daughter and letting strippers come to her home? I realize the author’s intent, but it needed to be believable for me to invest emotion into the telling of the story. It's not that I don't believe it happens, I just didn't believe THIS family would agree to it. I also think the story suffers from too many issues, the result being none of them are delved into deeply. The story had a lighter feel than I would have expected, given the subject matter.

Still, if you can get past the premise, it's a fast entertaining read that not only explores the sex trafficking trade but also explores how the family deals with the aftermath.

**thanks to NetGalley and Doubleday for providing me with a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Linda.
76 reviews176 followers
October 29, 2016
I've given this book a lot of thought, before reviewing it. My dilemma was how to go about it without spoilers? I like to compare books and my reactions to them as I would judge pieces of art. Each one must provoke a feeling within me, whether it be good or bad, or they have failed in my eyes as an artist.

"The Guest House" got me involved with every character right from the beginning. The author had a talent of creating people who were able to touch your heart, and threw them into the horrors of murder, sex trafficking, and the fear of losing everything they loved. The book mimicked real life with many disappointments and struggles. I became so engrossed but never saw that ending coming.

This was my first Chris Bohjalian novel, but I certainly will be reading another one. In my opinion, he is a true artist with his talented writing, and I would definitely recommend this book.

Sent from my iPad
Profile Image for Suz.
1,158 reviews606 followers
August 25, 2017
My first foray into Overdrive, and considering I work in a library, a long overdue one! This was to me, literary fiction. Lots of back story on Russia in the 1980's, and many references to the sex slave industry. This is not nice stuff.

A 'good' man, loving father and sensible older brother holds a bucks evening for his reckless, selfish and obstinant younger sibling. What could go wrong? Admittedly the owner of the house (the wife) knew there would be a stripper, but so be it.

What transpires is a terrible story of sex slavery including young girls and the almost impossible way forward and any hope of a life beyond. One night of reckless behaviour for this group of indulgent and arrogant men leaves a family torn apart, and the life of a young girl with dreams of being a ballerina forever changed.

This is excellent writing and whilst I enjoyed this book and would certainly read the author again, I was not left loving the ending or the entire feel for the story.
Profile Image for Wendy.
1,681 reviews568 followers
January 29, 2016
Once again Chris Bohjalian proves to be a master storyteller!
Richard Chapman reluctantly agrees to host his younger brother Philip's bachelor party at his own home. He suspects Philip's friend Spencer may be hiring "strippers" for the occasion. What he doesn't expect is two young women and their Russian bodyguards who show up at his door. Things escalate quickly from drinking, partying, sex and then suddenly to murder.
Richards home, as well as the home of his wife and daughter, becomes a crime scene covered in blood and gore with his life in turmoil. What was to be a simple bachelor party ends up threatening his marriage and his career.
Alexandra shares her history in alternating chapters as the current disaster unfolds. Through her we learn of the many hushed cruelties visited upon young girls forced into the sex trade.
Although fiction, the author's in-depth research into child sex trafficking gives us an eye-opening account of this excrutiating reality.
It is easy to see why Chris Bohjalian is a favorite author of mine. His storytelling is incredibly compelling and with each and every novel of his, that I have read so far, I am totally captivated by his brilliant writing.

Thank you to Doubleday and NetGalley for this advanced copy to read and review.
Profile Image for Jessica Woodbury.
1,639 reviews2,155 followers
August 13, 2015
The first few pages of this book will hook you immediately. Once you find out what has happened, the fallout will keep you turning pages. I think it's the most riveting Bohajlian novel I've read, wonderfully plotted.

It's also a book that's hugely relevant in our modern discussion of rape culture. Bohjalian looks at a bachelor party, an event so deeply ingrained in American culture that it's expected for any man getting married, an event that is also in large part about the objectification of women. Bohjalian doesn't hold back but doesn't preach, either. He is straightforward about what happens and what these men think after it goes terribly wrong. The center of the book is Richard Chapman, who has a serious crisis of conscience as well as a plain-old crisis after the horrific events.

But what's probably most important about this book is the choice Bohjalian makes to give voice to one of the women at the bachelor party who's hired as the "entertainment." I would expect this type of book to examine the effect of a terrible event on a privileged white man, to see how it rips his life apart. What I wouldn't expect is to see his story in parallel with the story of a woman whose life has been destroyed to such a degree that it is hard to comprehend as a reader. That is a powerful thing, and that Bohjalian isn't afraid to tell Chapman's story honestly even while he gives us a hefty dose of perspective is hugely appreciated. There are plenty of white men telling stories about white men, so this upheaval of the traditional approach is very, very welcome.
Profile Image for switterbug (Betsey).
845 reviews806 followers
November 14, 2015
Veteran writer Chris Bohjalian has an appreciation for story and character, and he combines a ripped-from-the-headlines topic with a sympathetic family drama. Wealthy investment banker Richard Chapman has been happily married to Kristin, and their nine-year-old daughter, Melissa, is the light of their lives. Kristin teaches at the upscale private school near where they live in Bronxville. Solid marriage. Happy family. But, what happens when a tragedy of consequences hits home?

When Richard’s wife and daughter are safely ensconced at his mother-in-law’s, he hosts a bachelor party at his house, planned by his brother’s friend, Spencer, who has experience hiring “girls.” Oddly, Kristin has accepted that strippers were going to be at their domicile, as well as a bunch of guys drinking and smoking to excess. Well, the party goes awry; two Russian bodyguards are killed by the so-called strippers, who turn out to be sex slaves, and possibly underage. Then they fled. The family is devastated, scandal is imminent, Richard’s job is in jeopardy, and Kristin is appalled that her husband got naked and kissed one of the girls. The house is splattered everywhere with blood, and it is obvious that sex occurred in Melissa’s bedroom. This is how it all begins, and the fallout to family is the crux of the story.

The narration primarily alternates between the Chapman family members and Alexandra, one of the two sex slaves that got away. We learn of her family history, as well as follow her and Sonja, the other fugitive from this mess. Her personal story has its own pile-up of tragedies. The author humanized Alexandra, but her English was too exceptional for someone in this country only three weeks, with little formal education. Her language, (except for inconsistently devised dropping of the articles “a” and “the,”) was too immaculate. It may seem a small complaint, but it was distracting, and made it more difficult to suspend disbelief.

The problems for the Chapmans were expected, and Melissa’s crumbling interior world was the most palpable. Between home and school, there was no escape from the sordid story. As the family tries to mend, and find its way back to each other, the consequences of actions taken become more heightened.

Bohjalian’s narrative is largely formulaic, but with a surprise twist at the end. The problem was that I wasn’t convinced. One character’s actions appeared contrived during the climax, and I had a hard time believing certain states of mind that are not supported. It was too abrupt a change of heart, and in the throes of a dangerous event, seemed incredulous.

The story could also have been paced a bit better. There were some irrelevant digressions—and details of a walk-on character during the denouement were immaterial, and seemed placed to keep us in suspense. And a lot of the content was repetitive. Unfortunately, the thriller aspects seemed derivative to me. I know that the author did his research, but I wasn’t persuaded. I did engage with some of the Chapman’s distress, which helped me to keep going. I don’t want to be too harsh, or alienate any Bohjalian fans. This is just my opinion, that the author’s ambitions weren’t well realized. But I was able to finish, for wanting to know how this quick read all turned out.
Profile Image for ☮Karen.
1,534 reviews9 followers
November 28, 2016
Maybe closer to 3.5 stars for this audiobook.

I've said this before, so again, I think Chris Bohjalian is an amazing writer of the female psyche. I also know that all things Armenian are extremely important to him. If there are young women (really, "girls") in Armenia being kidnapped and sold into sex slavery, Chris is the guy to write about it. He crafted a very tragic and interesting story of a bachelor party gone horribly wrong when the hired strippers (sex slaves) kill their handlers at the party host's upper middle class suburban home. The consequences to the men in attendance were many, especially the host. The story of the girls brought to America for these parties seemed at times to take second place in importance, and that really bothered me. I would have liked to know more about them and other such victims. I wish there had been an author's note at the end to expand more on the sex slave issue. And the voice of the girl narrating her story was so annoying, maybe I tuned it out myself without even realizing it.
Profile Image for ♡ Kim ♡.
138 reviews252 followers
March 12, 2016
Great book! Ok, so some may not like the topic of sex trafficking, but if you can get past that, then this is a fast paced book that will suck you in and keep you reading until the end!

Profile Image for Danielle (The Blonde Likes Books).
605 reviews347 followers
January 31, 2018
Unfortunately this wasn’t a winner for me. I hated all of the characters, and the plot wasn’t doing it for me either. The book centered around sex trafficking, adultery, bribery, and lies, and I just couldn’t get into it because I wasn’t rooting for any of the characters.
Profile Image for Erin Dunn.
Author 3 books88 followers
February 16, 2018

This is the second book I've read by Chris Bohjalian and I've rated both of them five stars! So I am seeing that I definitely need to read more by Bohjalian. The first one I read by him is The Sleepwalker, see my review for that one here.


I got sucked into The Guest Room right away. The book immediately started off with excellent tension and suspense and it stayed fast-paced throughout. I like that it has Richard and Alexandra's POV, but also there are some chapters from Richard's wife and daughter's POV. I think the book would have been fine with just Richard and Alexandra's POV, but the added POVs from Richard's wife and daughter really rounded out the story and added in more emotion.


Speaking of emotion, The Guest Room made me so emotional! I went back and forth between sad, disgusted, and furious. I mean that in a good way because the writing is phenomenal. I will warn you that one main topic in this novel is sex trafficking. I know that not everyone is okay with reading about that subject, but let me just say it's well done in this book. Even though, yes, there are some parts that are a little tough to read. I found The Guest Room to be very thought provoking and RELEVANT. Sex trafficking is still an issue TODAY.


Overall I really liked The Guest Room and I don't have any complaints about it at all. I loved it! It's a gripping, chilling, and intense read. I highly recommend it for all thriller fans!

Profile Image for Judy Collins.
2,683 reviews375 followers
December 5, 2016
A special thank you to Doubleday Books and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Top 50 Books of 2016!

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.

Bachelor-party turns into a nightmare. Suburbia collides with the Russian mob.Sex slavery in a family living room.

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.
• Lastly, 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.

There are 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. Good versus evil. 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 is 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.

Would urge you 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!

Another recommended read on the subject: In Plain Sight Sylvie Fox Casey Cort Series (sex trafficking legal political suspense thriller). The down and dirty take--evil allures innocent young girls.


Profile Image for Bill.
308 reviews312 followers
January 19, 2016
This is the first book I have ever read by Chris Bohjalian. In fact, I had never really heard of him before. Which is quite surprising considering how much I read, and the fact that he has written almost 20 novels.

So this book is primarily about the sex slave trade, and every second chapter is told from the perspective of a girl who is a sex slave. And the story she tells of her life is so unbelievably sad. And the people who engage in this business are so despicable, it's enough to make you sick.

Basically the story starts out at the main characters house, where he is having a bachelor party for his younger brother. It has been arranged for these two "strippers" to be there, along with their two guards. Soon actual sex starts happening and then, almost out of nowhere, mayhem ensues.

The rest of the book is about the lives of the various characters, and what happens to them, due to the ramifications of what happened at this party.

The writing is quite good and there is definitely enough going on to maintain your interest, but I have to say it's a pretty depressing book in general, and it pretty well stays that way until the very end. So if you're looking for a book to lift your spirits, this is absolutely not the right one.

By the way, this is a new endeavor for me, trying to write a review for almost every book I read. I'm not really very good at it, but the main thing I'm trying to avoid is giving away very much of the plot. I hate it when you read a review and it tells you almost the whole story. That's why i read books, to find out the story. So, for example instead of describing the main event at the bachelor party in this book, I said "mayhem ensued". That could be anything. And in order to find out, you have to read the book for yourself.

Profile Image for Deborah Blanchard.
380 reviews86 followers
October 17, 2015
I don't know what to say about this book except: Riveting! I will probably write better review later, however, I wanted everyone to know what a page turner this book is. It is based on sex slaves and abduction. It has murder and mayhem. It has love and caring. It encompasses everything into one amazing, incredible ride of a read! Chris Bohjalian is a very gifted and amazing storyteller. This was my first book by him and it isn't for sale yet, but write down the name, you need to read it. It is vividly descriptive with a cast of characters that are complex and so well developed that you will feel their fear, pain and love. It encompasses the moral consequences of our actions and how what we do and how we handle things can lead us down roads we can not fathom. Sex slavery is a real problem, with real children and teens. It ruins lives. Read this book for them and for yourself. Be aware, it happens right here in the USA! I hope I have done this book justice, there is so much more to say, but I don't want to give it all away. Read this book when it comes out. I know I will be reading all of Chris Bohjalian's books after this one. Unbelievable read!
Profile Image for Patricia Williams.
600 reviews140 followers
December 7, 2017
This is one of my favorite authors and I always love his books. He tells a good story but also makes a social statement. This was another book that I could not put down once I started reading it. I won't give the story away except to say that my only disappointment was the main character did not make it to the end of the story. He was so likeable and caring and you really wanted things to come out good for him. But overall a very good story.
Profile Image for Victoria.
412 reviews326 followers
July 26, 2016
I know I’m late to the Bohjalian party, but I would like to make up for that with unbridled enthusiasm and embarrassing gushing. I would insert a fantastic gif here of a llama bouncing around, in essence, llama-ing out, but gifs feel seizure inducing and not worthy of this author’s talent because he amazes with words. A vocabulary that is awe inspiring and language usage that puts a capital p in prose, Chris Bohjalian is a master storyteller.

The premise of this novel is part social commentary, part cautionary tale and all around suspenseful page turner, absolutely absorbing. Never having attended a bachelor party I can’t guarantee this, but I’m pretty sure this is the most epically disastrous party ever thrown. What Bohjalian has done here so astoundingly, in alternating chapters, is to provide us both the aftermath of this event and an unfiltered account of the insidious, systematic manipulation and enslavement of a young girl. I could hear this young woman’s voice, the deadened soul, the heartbreaking sense of having been robbed of all dignity.

What makes the narrative so compelling, beyond the astonishing writing, is that all of the characters are realistic and credible. From the man at the center of the debacle whose life quickly devolves and disintegrates, to the sympathetic, yet understandably angry wife to the grown men with frat boy personas, all of their voices have a ring of authenticity and round out the trifecta of rousing plot, sublime narrative and finely-honed characterization.

This book is outstanding storytelling with heart and just enough enlightenment of a timely social issue. An issue most of us would rather not look at too closely, but are forced to see through the eyes of one of the protagonists. Mr. Bohjalian isn’t preaching, he’s just asking us to see it for what it is. I cannot wait to devour this author’s other books, what a talent, I am now part of the cult of Chris.
Profile Image for ♥ Sandi ❣	.
1,320 reviews18 followers
February 23, 2016
It all began at a bachelor party- the one that Richard Chapman was hosting for his younger brother Phillip. Strippers were booked for the party - they showed up and the party goers began to get drunk. Soon they all became sober! The "girls" attending the party, along with their "body guards" became the main focus, when the girls killed their keepers. The two Armenian sex slaves then fled the party.
Now both Richard and Phillip had to explain to their parents, Phillips fiance' and Richards wife and daughter what happened. The Chapman house is cordoned off as a crime scene and Richard is banished to a motel, while his family stays at his mother-in-laws. Now Kristin has lost faith in her husband and their 15 year marriage. To make matter worse, Richard, an investment banker, is asked to vacate his job.
The girls are on the run - afraid of their captors, equally afraid of the police, having only been in the US for a brief few months and realizing they could be held for murder.
This story is told by both Richard and Alexandra - the one Armenian girl that became close to Richard while at the party.
This story is a typical great novel by Bohjalian. There is considerable bad language and references to sex in this story that covers one of the worst true to life evils. It is a fast paced book and hard to put down.
Profile Image for Carol.
834 reviews499 followers
December 16, 2015
My sincere thanks to Doubleday and Edelweiss for the advance e-galley to be published January 5, 2016.

Have you ever been talked into something when you knew right from the start that you know your answer should be “No”? Richard Chapman pushes aside his better judgment and agrees to host his brother Philip’s bachelor party in his own upscale home. He convinces himself that a bunch of guys, a night of heavy drinking and perhaps a stripper, or even two couldn’t be all that bad. He’d clean up before his wife and daughter came home the next day; everyone would be happy. Philip was his younger brother, family was family after all and Richard was the best man in the upcoming wedding. He felt an obligation he couldn’t deny. If Richard had only listened to his gut feeling and just said “no”. The seemingly innocent bachelor festivities turn out to be Richard’s worst nightmare.

Chris Bohjalian is one of my favorite authors. I liked the premise of Guest Room and thought the ending was realistic. Though I realize sex trafficking is a reality the way it was portrayed here did not seem realistic to me. Character narrative and development and plotting seemed less compelling than usual but overall Guest Room is certain to be well received by Bohjalian fans.

Profile Image for Marjorie.
551 reviews57 followers
August 4, 2016
This is an amazing book. Chris Bohjalian has such a knack for slipping his readers right into the lives and hearts of his characters. With this book, he has not only created a chilling thriller but also a deep complex novel about family and trust. But he doesn’t stop there. He also opens your heart and mind to the horror of child sex trafficking in such an intimate way that is completely heart rending.

The striking comparison between the lives of the two young girls in this book makes for an engrossing read. Both love ballet, both love Barbie dolls but one becomes a sex slave. The contrast between their lives is achingly real. During a bachelor party that horribly loses control, the father of the one girl has an unforgettable encounter with the young sex slave in the guest room of his home. His resulting shame and concern for the girl will change the lives of all involved.

This may very well be my favorite read of 2015 as there are so many levels to this book. The story at first look wouldn’t have been appealing to me. I’ve never understood the need for bachelor parties. A man makes a commitment to a woman but he has to have one last night of “freedom”. The whole concept just boggles my mind. Yes, a party with his friends to celebrate his marriage would be great (but isn’t that the marriage reception?) but a rowdy party with strippers? If someone unknown to me had written this book and I had read the blurb, I doubt if I would have wanted to read it. But luckily I’m familiar with the value of Chris Bohjalian’s work and knew it was one I had to read. Most highly recommended.

A copy of this book was given to me by the publisher through Edelweiss in return for an honest review.
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