THE GUEST ROOM
By Chris Bohjalian. (Doubleday, 318 pages, $25.95.)
Bestselling author Chris Bohjalian's latest novel, "The Guest Room," is a gripping story about suburban American lives ripped apart when they encounter the evil world of sex slavery. Set in Westchester County, N.Y., it begins in the upscale family home of investment banker Richard Chapman, who hosts his young brother's bachelor party with guests that include two female strippers and their two male, Russian-mob minders.
The party jolts to an end with the Russian guys collapsed in pools of blood in Chapman's house, and the young female killers running from police and from the mobsters who kidnapped and trafficked them. In alternating chapters, Bohjalian cleverly unfolds the twin stories of Alexandra's unwitting descent into forced prostitution starting in Russia and the crash of Chapman's seemingly ideal life after a guy-thing party gone horribly wrong. It's hard to put down, or ever forget.
The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2015
Edited by Adam Johnson. (Mariner Books, 432 pages, $14.95.)
With so much to read already, why would you let a bunch of high school students give you a reading list?
Just do it.
Scenes leap from the pages of "The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2015." Vivid fiction, searing nonfiction, plus poetry and graphic novels, all in about 400 pages.
The 27 selections were picked by a panel of high schoolers in San Francisco with an assist from a similar group in Ann Arbor, Mich. Started by author/editor/activist Dave Eggers ("A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius"), the project has students scouring the publishing world for great writing to share. A couple of grown-ups are involved, but students drive the decisionmaking.
The result is a well-paced, wide-ranging anthology that whets the reader's appetite more with each chapter. Wells Tower stalks an elephant with American trophy hunters. Daniel Alarçon traces the tragic consequences of reality TV for a 19-year-old in Peru. Box Brown depicts the life of wrestler/actor André the Giant as a graphic novel.
None of the offerings were on my list. All were worth the time. These folks can add to my reading list any day.