Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group | October 2016 | 336 pgs
This book explores the horrors behind human trafficking, prostitution and how one night will send a family (or two) into destruction.
When Richard Chapman decides to host a bachelor party at his house for his younger brother, Philip, before his big night weeks later, he thought it'd be a night filled with entertainment and a few harmless fling among the men (well not him, he thinks). His wife and their nine-year-old daughter are off at his mother-in-law's for the weekend and he knows life will be back to normalcy come the new week. But things are not what they expect; the party has gone horribly wrong and two men are dead in Richard's living room. The two girls they have hired (so called strippers but are in fact sex slaves under a mobster's ring) are believed to have killed their Russians bodyguards before fleeing for their lives.
While we have Richard's and the full story told in third person, we also get to read about Alexandra's story through her narrative in between the chapters. Alexandra's story is a sad one; filled with her bittersweet dreams of becoming a ballerina and how she was tricked into selling her body for the sake of survival. She was fifteen when she was abducted by her late mother's ex-boss; Alexandra and her grandmother thought he was doing his late employee a favour by taking care of Alexandra's welfare. By the time they left Moscow for America (Alexandra is actually an Armenian) she realised it was all a well-planned scheme and there was no escape.
The Guest Room was a riveting read as it was fast paced and has the intensity of a thriller. There are villains here, but they are more "behind the scenes" and there is no easy or straightforward answer behind some of the issues raised in this story. I also liked how the author infused this story with some humanity and morality; while there are despicable characters, there are also characters whom you couldn't help but to feel sorry for them. As this story revolves around human trafficking and prostitution, it was heartbreaking to read about Alexandra's story (as well as a few girls who suffered the same fate as her) and how terrifying her story reflects the reality even in today's world.
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