The Sleepwalker by Chris Bohjalian

Chris Bohjalian is a very popular author known for his haunting stories. It’s a bit embarrassing that it has taken me so long to read anything by him but I’ve finally done it! And I decided to choose his newest novel for my first foray!

Annalee Ahlberg is a sleepwalker and her affliction is a point of concern for her family. They never know where she will go or what she will do when she’s asleep at night. When she goes missing, it’s her family’s worst nightmare. The morning of her disappearance, a search party tears apart the woods. Annalee’s husband, Warren, hurries home from a business trip. Annalee’s eldest daughter, Lianna, is questioned by detectives. And youngest daughter Paige takes it upon herself to search for clues. When the police find a small swatch of fabric from a nightshirt, it seems certain that Annalee is dead. However, young detective Gavin Rikert continues to persist and keeps calling the Ahlbergs. As Lianna tries to support her family and finds herself drawn to Gavin, she tries to make sense of her mother’s disappearance. Where did Annalee go? What is it that drives her out of her bed every time her father leaves? And why is Gavin so interested in Annalee’s disappearance?

This was a very interesting story to read. I really don’t know much about sleepwalking and the many ways it manifests itself, and the author managed to explain all of its details without making it boring. The story is mainly told from Lianna’s perspective, as she struggles to keep herself and her family afloat in the aftermath of her mother’s disappearance. Interspersed between these chapters that tell us how life is continuing are excerpts from the journal of a sleepwalker; the identity of this sleepwalker remains a mystery until the very end of the book. In the beginning, this novel had hints of a mystery but seemed to be more of a character-driven story. While I didn’t like any of the characters per se, I liked their honest portrayal and how each character was unique. The story unfolds slowly but it reels you in the whole time. My one complaint is that Lianna was not strong in her ability to connect things and deduce things but the author still made everything work. The last bit of the novel moved quite quickly and the revelations, which I had pretty much guessed by that point, were delivered quite well. Overall, this has been a good experience for me and I’m looking forward to reading more books by Chris Bohjalian!

Happy reading ~

The Guest Room by Chris Bohjalian

A good friend of mine recently pointed out that all I ever read are the newest novels. He said that I’m always looking on the bestseller list for new books to read and review about. And he’s right. I like to read whatever is most current, not only because I find that most of the novels are to my taste but also because I want to write about novels that are currently making it big. Don’t get me wrong, I will read ANY novel that I find interesting, but I enjoy reviewing novels that seem the most … relevant and “in”, and those usually tend to be bestsellers. But I have decided to start branching out more and reading novels that aren’t directly in the spotlight. However, this novel is DEFINITELY garnering attention and I was lucky enough to get my hand on a physical copy. Of course I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to read and review it! So, here is my review:

When Richard Chapman agrees to host his brother’s bachelor party at his home, he doesn’t expect it to be anything crazy. Richard’s wife, Kristin, and daughter are spending the weekend with his mother-in-law, and everything should be back to normal by the time they arrive home. What wasn’t expected was that the night of drunkenness and revelry would lead to Richard sharing an intimate moment ¬†with the hired entertainment and the stabbing of two Russian bodyguards by two women, who then flee into the night. Suddenly, life is all out of control. The police are crawling all over the home, which is now a crime scene; Richard’s investment firm puts him on indefinite leave; and Kristin is unsure about whether this marriage can still work or not. But the women from the party face a more imminent danger as they run from the police they believe will imprison them, and the gangsters who they know will kill them.

This novel gave a jarring glimpse into the world of sex trafficking as it followed the story of Alexandra and her journey from Moscow to America. It was powerful in the way that it reflected the lives of all of those who were involved in this event. Every voice had something unique to contribute, and they allowed one to glimpse the different experiences a person could have to an unthinkable situation like this. My heart ached for Alexandra, felt sympathy for Kristin, and had hatred for a bunch of other people who I won’t name because then it would ruin the novel. I definitely wasn’t expecting the conclusion to be the way it was but it worked and I can understand why the author wanted to write it this way. This is my first time reading something by Chris Bohjalian and I really enjoyed the intensity of his writing. I am definitely going to be adding more of his works to my to-read list. If you like thrillers and shocking crimes, then this novel is for you..you will NOT be able to put it down!

Happy reading ~