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 The Guest Room By Chris Bohjalian -Book Club Reading Guide

The Guest Room

by Chris Bohjalian

PBR Book Review:

In my mind, the term bachelor party conjures up images of high caloric food, shots followed by beer chasers, maybe a strip club or someone hired to dance down to her thong in front of the man of the hour and dawn breaking over guys sprawled everywhere. This story starts with a bachelor party that ends not with semi-conscience young men sprawled on sticky floors, but with two dead Russian body guards and two missing the Russian sex slaves. From here Chris Bohijalian takes the reader on a journey of discovery and emotional entanglement. He attacks the sex trafficking trade head on and turns Richard’s life inside out. Richard is a virtuous kind of guy, a wealth investment banker, the brother of the groom and the unlucky host of this party, who had a momentary lapse in judgment. Now his life, his family will never be the same. The story is captivating and thought provoking , creating a whirlwind of emotions – sadness, anger, shock and incredulity. Highly recommend.

Book Club Talking Points:

The story focuses on human sex trafficking. But it also shows how small decisions, made with not a lot of thought can be life changing. It’s also makes you think about how you would re-act in a situation such as this. It explores human nature and relationships, guilt and shame– especially within the dynamics of Richard’s family after the damage is done and he is trying to put things back together. Excellent book Club Book.

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*Author Website:

*Other Books by Same Author: In addition to "The Guest Room", "Sleepwalker" and "Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands" are Chris Bohjalian's most curent novels. Visit his website for a complete list.

*Discussion Questions (From the Publisher)

1. When Anahit is forced to become Alexandra, what happens to her sense of self? How is she able to secretly retain many aspects of her true identity—particularly her sense of humor and her intellect? How does she navigate the multitude of cultures beyond her Armenian homeland? How would you fare in her situation?

2. If you were Kristin, how would you have reacted to Richard’s story? If you were Nicole, would you have broken off the engagement to Philip?

3. If the bachelor party had featured strippers or prostitutes who had freely chosen their line of work, would you call the debauchery harmless? Is a career in the sex trade ever freely chosen?

4. Discuss the psychological tactics Alexandra’s captors use against her. Is there anything she and her beloved grandmother could have done to see through Vasily’s promises?

5. How will Melissa be affected by the aftermath of her uncle’s party? How will these memories shape her understanding of a woman’s role in the world, and the nature of suffering?

6. Is Spencer simply motivated by money, or does he also crave power? How much does he have in common with Kirill and Pavel?

7. At the end of chapter 5, Alexandra says she never had faith in hatred, like Sonja did. What accounts for the differences between Sonja and Alexandra? What is the source of Alexandra’s resilience and her inability to become “good at hatred”?

8. Are most of the men you know similar to Richard, or are they more like his brother, Philip? Are Alexandra’s images from The Bachelor totally unrealistic?

9. How were you affected by the story Alexandra tells Richard about the crates of Barbie dolls? How do her memories of the dolls compare to Melissa and Kristin’s visit to FAO Schwarz?

10. As Alexandra and Richard struggled to be free of their separate turmoil, what outcomes were you envisioning for them? How did the ending compare to your predictions?

11. How did The Guest Room enhance your experience of other novels by Chris Bohjalian? What’s special about the worlds he brings to life in his storylines?

12. Although it’s a work of fiction, The Guest Room opens our eyes to the tragic reality of human trafficking. How can a novel spur change? How is a novelist’s approach different from that of journalists?

13. What should we teach our daughters and sons about sexuality and exploitation? Does sex appeal make a woman powerful, or does it make her vulnerable?

Book Summary
Vintage Contemporaries | 336 Pages | October 25, 2016 | ISBN-10: 0804170983 | ISBN-13: 978-0804170987
When Kristin Chapman agrees to let her husband, Richard, host his brother’s bachelor party, she expects a certain amount of debauchery. She takes their young daughter to Manhattan for the evening, leaving her Westchester home to the men and their hired entertainment. What she does not expect is that the entertainment—two scared young women brought there by force—will kill their captors and drive off into the night.

With their house now a crime scene, Kristin’s and Richard’s life spirals into nightmare. Kristin is unable to forgive her husband for his lapses in judgement, or for the moment he shared with a dark-haired girl in the guest room. But for the dark-haired girl, Alexandra, the danger is just beginning.

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