Insomnia is a semi-frequent visitor of mine that shows up unannounced and at the most inconvenient times.

One of these times was last Tuesday night. Everything felt normal, I didn’t have any (additional) stress, but sleepiness never came, despite my usual sleep-inducing medicine.

The result was barely three hours (interrupted) sleep and the rest of the week spent trying to repair the damage.

Thankfully, I have a three-day weekend this week (hooray!) and am getting some much needed relaxation (and extra sleep). Another thing I’m thankful for is the (many) good books that have gotten me through some sleepless nights.

During Tuesday/Wednesday’s bout of insomnia I started, and then finished, Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris. (Side note: the book didn’t contribute to my insomnia, just in case anyone’s curious.)

Warning: there may be spoiler-type information below, so proceed with caution if you don’t want details given away.

Behind Closed Doors cover
Source

I’ve had this book on my shelf for awhile now, having snagged it from my local library on a whim. The story idea was interesting and I like psychological thrillers (Gone Girl, Girl on the Train), so this seemed something right up my alley.

The book is about so-called “perfect” couple Jack and Grace Angel. They never fight, are never apart, and are beautiful, talented, and charming. The idea of the story, from the book jacket suggests that the idea of a “perfect” couple is often a front and that we, as outsiders to the relationship, can’t understand what goes on.

Okay, so I figured going in that this was going to be a book with a domestic violence element. I’ve read other books with this topic and I think it’s something that needs to be discussed more frequently. I knew that going in and I figured I was prepared for it.

I was not prepared for what this book offered. Let me state bluntly that its comparison to The Girl on the Train are wrong and misleading. Behind Closed Doors lacks the nuance, storytelling, and humanity that The Girl on the Train possesses.

Basically, Behind Closed Doors is the story of a woman, Grace, who is conned into a quick marriage with a psychopathic near-stranger, Jack, who is interested in her because he’s looking for the perfect victim to torture and torment who no one will miss. The story is told from her perspective, so the reader doesn’t know anything beyond what she does.

Instead of the nuanced exploration and discussion into domestic violence that I was expecting (that books like Big Little Lies, The Girl on the Train, and Gone Girl explored) this story is filled with a constant level of sadism that, while never graphic and rarely violent, is pervasively psychological. As one Amazon reviewer noted, the sadism did nothing to advance the plot or provide insight to any of the characters. It was just one horror after another.

After finishing the book I really just didn’t feel good. Even with the fairly satisfactory ending. I still don’t feel good when I think about it and I took it straight back to the library.

I would not recommend this book to any of my friends, based solely on my overall feeling after finishing the book. I finished it mostly for academic reasons, because I wanted to know how it ended and I was hearing rumblings about it and wanted to report back to my friends if they asked.

I’m glad I did finish it, if only to give a warning to those looking to pick it up.

Did you read Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris? Leave a comment and tell me what you thought!

 

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