The Guest Room by Chris Bohjalian
An advance reader copy was provided free of charge by Doubleday through NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion and review.
This book was not an
easy read because of the subject. The author nailed the topic.
Honestly had to stop from time to time to get away; actually felt sick to my stomach reading about the destruction of a little girl’s dancing dreams and her horrific introduction
to the sex slave trade. Yet at the same time I felt the thin thread of hope
pull me along as this little girl (Alexandra/née Nevart) refused to believe this was all she had to look forward to in her life. Her life was so traumatic and unfair that to t
his day, a week after finishing the book, I still get a sour stomach knowing that little girls all over the world suffer the same fate.
The emotional turmoil and heavy drama within the older brother’s (Richard) family foreshadowed what had to be an unhappy ending. Each member of his family (Kristin and daughter, Melissa) experienced the full range of negative feelings including confusion, anger, distrust and yes, love. Yet the ending had a twist I did not see coming.
Interesting to me were the comparisons sprinkled throughout the book between the young Nevart/Alexandra and Melissa. Born continents apart, each shared a love of Barbie dolls and ballet; childhoods leading in polar opposite directions. One loved deeply and the other deeply looking for love.
The self-destructive nature of the younger brother’s life made it an easy assumption that his life would continue to spiral out of control. The secondary characters nicely merged each of the principle threads into a harsh but well-crafted story.
In my opinion, the vulgar language, graphic physical descriptions and subject matter limits the reading audience. Children under 18 should not read this book. I would, however, recommend it to those individuals and book clubs interested in a discussion of a devastating real world injustice.