Before we jump into this review, I have a little confession. I didn’t love Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. In fact, while I really enjoyed the Eat section, the Pray section wore me out and I never made it far into the Love section. I tried to read the book on several occasions — but it just wasn’t my cup of tea. When the movie came out, I had high hopes, but in the end it was the same thing — I just didn’t love it. Or even like it that much.
So when I read that The Paradise Guest House: A Novel by Ellen Sussman was perfect for Eat, Pray, Love fans, I was a little skeptical. So skeptical that I almost didn’t read it. Thank goodness I did anyway — because this book is awesome.
Bali is a beautiful, peaceful place to travel where people can connect with their mind, body and spirit — or just have a little fun. But for Jamie, it’s also the site of horror and tragety.
The Paradise Guest House follows Jamie, an American adventure guide who survived a tragic nightclub bombing in Bali that claimed the life of her boyfriend, who returns to Bali in search of something — perhaps peace, perhaps closure, perhaps answers to unspoken questions. She is there to be part of the one-ear-anniversary events, remembering those lost. After a year of recovery, the trip is an emotionally raw return to the horror, guilt and beauty she experienced.
Jamie must face the past, and also figure out the answer to the big question looming over her life: What’s next?
Sussman writes powerfully. The characters are nuanced, well-developed and believable. The book oozes with emotions, unraveling the complex and difficult truth of what happened before, during and after the bombing for Jamie. This is the perfect book for digging into this summer on the beach — even as it deals with such grief.
Read it. It’s a truly beautiful story.
Also, if you are interested in Bali, read 3 Reasons to Travel to Bali.
Disclosure: This post contains an affiliate link. I was provided with a galley of this book for review purposes. All opinions are my own.