The Guest Room, Chris Bohjalian

Options. Such a word. Such an idea. Try having options when you have never had options before. Very difficult.

One Sentence Summary: A bachelor party turned into a horrific scene when two strippers had killed their guards and running for their lives while the house owner has to deal with the mess of their actions.

Kristin and her daughter stay at her mother's apartment when Richard is hosting a bachelor party for his younger brother Philip. In the early morning at 3 a.m., she receives the bad news about the shocking ending of the bachelor party at their house. The two strippers are gone, and their Russian bodyguards are dead.

Alexandra's story begins with her excitement of seeing New York City. Sonja, Crystal and her were brought from Moscow. Although the person or the group that brought them here keeps changing rules, Alexandra still feeling hopeful for her freedom in two or three years. She begins to reveal her unfortunate life, such as dealing with rough men and only allowed for one hour of sunlight. She scared of her housemothers but felt safer with the men who paid for her than her daddies.

On her twenty-first night in America, she learned that Crystal was killed by their Russian daddies. Sonja lost her mind and killed Pavel who was involved in disposing of Crystal's body. Later, when they were running for their lives, Sonja told her that she was waiting for the right time to execute her plan.

Every chapter has two sides of the story. The first side is the current situation after the night Richard witnessed the murder at his house. Richard has to face his wife with the truth of bringing the stripper to the guest room, but there is no sexual relationship involved between them. The other side of the story is about Alexandra's life and how she was cheated and forced to become a sex slave.

The entire story focuses on Alexandra's life as a sex slave after her mother's death. But her life changed after her friend Sonja killed the two Russian guards at Richard's house. At the same time, Richard has to face all the aftermath after two people were killed by two strippers at his home. He was put into a leave of absence for his work. His wife struggles to believe him and his daughter feeling confused and scared of the vulnerability of her parents' relationship. And also, his brother's friend tried to blackmail him after he recorded Richard and Alexandra in the guest room.

I was expecting the ending will include Alexandra telling the truth to Kristin about what happened in the guest room. But I guess Kristin trusts her husband in the end and doesn't need any reassurance.

The ending was another unexpected ones; however, it was beautifully written and very touching. Although it seems sad, it makes me feel good at the same time with the existence of forgiveness and humanity in the story. Also, from this book, I got to know more about Armenian history.

SPOILER WARNING! Alexandra began her story of how her life changed after her mother passed away because of cancer. Her mother's boss Vasily often be there for her and her grandmother since then. Vasily owns a brandy factory but why he needs bodyguards if he claims what he is? Probably it is for the other business.

Alexandra loves to dance and wants to become a ballerina. Vasily promised her that she can learn from someone that he knows from the Moscow Ballet. She will also go to school so that she will get educated even she can't become a dancer in the end. Of course, her dream to become a dancer is not as beautiful as she thought. Andrei who works for Vasily not only raped her but also forced her to become a sex slave. She was fifteen at time.

Alexandra lived in a cottage with other underage girls abducted by Vasily for sex slavery. They were locked in the house and being monitored closely by guards and trained by a housemother named Inga. Inga wrote letters to Alexandra's grandmother on behalf of her and made up names provided by her. If she finds out Alexandra tries to hint her grandmother about her current situation, Inga will share her sex video to everyone.

After the night of the murder, Richard has to tell the truth to his wife. He even hires a lawyer for his own protection after witnessing the killing. Richard is so confused and not sure what to do. Kristin chooses to believe what Richard told her although she has doubts.

Alexandra and Sonja are on the run after the murder. They work in strip clubs to earn more money so they can flee to Los Angeles. Sonja knows someone that can provide them with fake IDs and passports. When Alexandra didn't receive any calls from Sonja on that afternoon when they supposed to leave to Los Angeles, she knew something terrible had happened to Sonja. Sonja told her before that she had the guy's contact number on a condom wrapper which she left at Richard's house.

Alexandra decides to go to Richard's house to look for it. Richard wants to help her, but they couldn't find the condom wrapper. Richard wants to protect her in a way like a father wants to protect his daughter. When Kristin and her daughter comes home, they are shocked. Nonetheless, Kristin got soft-hearted after she sees Alexandra looks like a teenage girl more than a prostitute.
A mysterious car appears across the street causes Richard to shout to his wife and daughter to run for shelter. Alexandra pushes Richard back to the house, and she got shot in front of the house. Richard crawled to the doorway to check on her, but he got shot on the head and died.

Alexandra is lucky to be alive, and Kristin tried to stop her bleeding before she was rushed to the hospital. She feels guilty and devastated when she knew about Richard's death, and Kristin had saved her life. Alexandra won't be going to jail. She will go to halfway house where she will live with other girls who had a similar experience as her. She will learn to live a normal life.

Victoria's real secret is that she's into some seriously uncomfortable underwear.

Rating: ★★★★
More reviews can be found on Goodreads: The Guest Room by Chris Bohjalian.

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