On being the ‘old’ mom + Chris Bohjalian’s “The Guest Room”

I have a really great group of friends. I call them my bookclub ladies. We float in and out of each other’s everyday lives–some of our kids dance at the same time, some swim on the same team, some of do similar after school activities, some of us end up at our Y at the same time. I usually see one or two of them a day–although not usually the same one or two. As a group, we try to get together once a month–alternating book discussion (and wine) and discussion and wine.

But I’m the oldest of our group. There are a few of us that are close to my age, and a few that are  10-15 years younger. We all have kids the same age. And that’s what brought us together.old-and-wise-quote-a-place-for-mom

It’s weird how that all works. I waited awhile to get married and have a baby, and then another. I mean, I wasn’t ancient, but I was older. I was 34 with my first, and a month past my 36th birthday with my second. But within our group, we have those that did have their kids young. At 21 or 22. I’m jealous of them, because at 21 or 22 or even 26, I was kind of spinning my wheels. Being married and having a baby may have grounded me a bit, but it also may have been (I may have been) a huge, hot mess.

I have friends from high school with children getting married. Their children are graduating high school or college, and they’re onto that ’empty nest’ phase of life. Friends with kids into their professional careers (this one started on his chosen profession young), even some that are grandparents (the ones that started young and had kids that started young, or they adopted their spouse’s children)!

I was never the oldest growing up. I’ve always been the youngest, or close to, in my groups–sports, school, extracurriculars. I was always on the younger end of the spectrum.

This may have stunted me, and that could be why I spent my 20’s ‘finding myself.’ But that may just be me. Who knows. I haven’t had enough therapy to get to the heart of all those issues.

Being the oldest, or older, than some of my mom friends gives me a different perspective. Different references. Different points of view. My childhood has different toys and movies, different history-making events, different school books and required reading.

But I’m friends with these women because we are all kind of laid back for the most part, although we take our children seriously (in a laid back way). I know that when one of my friends starts to get fired up about something, it’s an issue. No matter our age, it’s something that bonds us–the ages of our kids and our parenting styles.

I know there are people out there who judge me for waiting awhile to have kids, but whatevs. All my friends look at me like I’m cool and hip and young. And they know I’m the wisest of them all, and they come to me for advise. And I never go over budget in my personal finances. And my girls are perfect. And my house is clean. (All of these are HUGE exaggerations, in case you didn’t know.)

Seriously, though. I am the oldest, and sometimes that does make me feel uncomfortable.

But mostly I just feel lucky to have all these different points-of-view to reference, all these other mothers to rely on and to learn from. It’s amazing to me that we are all friends, and that we all can come together at different times and discuss life and kids, husbands and extended family. We can learn from each other and take comfort in each other. It’s a huge help in this thing called motherhood.

No matter what my age.

Okay, onto Chris Bohjalian’s  The Guest Room.

The story of how one night can change EVERYTHING.

The Premise

Richard Chapman is a good man. He loves his wife and his daughter with his whole heart, and he likes his life in suburban Connecticut. He happy with his job as an investment banker, and he’s good at it. He takes good care of his home. He’s a good son, and a better brother.

He knows his duty as his little brother’s best man: he must throw him a bachelor party. But Richard can’t imagine a cheesy night at a strip club, so he decides to have the party at his house. That way it won’t get too out of hand. Right?

Both he and his wife expect a stripper or two and a night of debauchery. Richard thinks that if it’s at his house than he an control the crowd a bit.

But, when the night goes horribly wrong, this good man is left trying to save himself and his marriage. And a young Armenian girl is on the run, afraid for her life.

My Thoughts

Bohjalian is a master of many different genres. This time he jumps into the modern thriller pool, and comes out pretty close to perfect.

In The Guest Room, Bohjalian tells this thriller from multiple points of view. Richard. His wife. His daughter. The Armenian stripper/call girl. A little from his brother. And a little from his brother’s friend, the man who procured the ‘talent’ for the night.

In doing it this way, he gives the reader a better understanding for all involved. He presents an extensive background for the young Armenian girl and her story of human trafficking. And the story of Richard, the man who should have put a stop to things, but was trying to be an understanding big brother and a good host. We get a look at a good marriage strained, and a glimpse at how fragile a child’s security really is.

And, among all those stories, Bohjalian gives readers a really good, page turning thriller.

I give this one 4 stars. This is a thriller with some depth, or a study of a good marriage strained to its breaking point. Whichever way you call it, it is good reading.



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