When Jamie, an American adventure travel guide, makes her first trip to Bali, she is thrilled to explore the many delights of the exotic Indonesian locale. Her involvement with a new romantic partner, Miguel, only adds to the plethora of sensual delights that Jamie experiences, including everything from the new foods she eats, the interesting sights she sees, and the passion of long nights full of lovemaking.
Unfortunately, a few nights into the trip, a terrorist bombing at a local nightclub where Jamie and Miguel have stopped changes both of their lives forever. Surrounded by death and destruction, Jamie lives through a horror that most people never experience and those who have can never forget.
"Author Ellen Sussman easily immerses us in another world full of memorable characters and tugs at our heartstrings as we come to know and care about the people in the story and their past, present and future."
Fortunately for Jamie, her physical injuries are mostly superficial, yet her mental and emotional injuries run much deeper. Even a year after the event, Jamie continues to relive the experience in her nightmares and in her daydreams. Does she dare travel back to Bali to confront her demons and seek healing in whatever form it takes?
Although Jamie is apprehensive about her decision to return to Bali, she grits her teeth and makes the trip knowing that even shaky legs will carry her where she needs to go. Upon arrival, she stays at the home of a local man, Nyoman, who has opened his doors to paying guests. As has most everyone in town, Nyoman lost a loved one in the bombing and understands Jamie's pain all too well.
Once she's settled in, Jamie embarks on a journey to find a kind man who pulled her from the wreckage of the bombing and stayed by her side while she healed enough to return home to the United States. All Jamie knows is his first name, Gabe, but she is aware that he captured her heart and her mind during their short time together. Jamie also becomes acquainted with a young boy named Bambang, who offers to assist her as a guide and gopher. Hesitant to become involved with the boy who lives by his wits in the streets, Jamie eventually finds herself in need of his assistance.
Although haunted by the past, Jamie makes happier new memories during her stay in Bali and even takes part in a commemorative event designed to memorialize those who were lost in the terrorist bombings and those who worked hard to save others caught in the crossfire.
THE PARADISE GUEST HOUSE is a touching book that paints an unforgettable picture of fictional characters, but is based on a true event. In 2002, two nightclubs in Bali were bombed by radical Islamists, leaving a total of 202 people dead and another 240 injured. Author Ellen Sussman easily immerses us in another world full of memorable characters and tugs at our heartstrings as we come to know and care about the people in the story and their past, present and future.
Reviewed by Amie Taylor on March 29, 2013