The Flight Attendant by Chris Bohjalian

The Flight Attendant by Chris Bohjalian

The Flight Attendant.jpg

The Flight Attendant
by Chris Bohjalian
Doubleday (March 13, 2018)
368 pages
Advance copy provided by publisher

Have you ever known (or known of) someone whose life has begun to resemble a raging dumpster fire due to their epically poor decision-making or coping skills? Well, multiply that times ten and you might be close to the disaster that is Cassandra Bowden, main character of author Chris Bohjalian's latest release The Flight Attendant.

Like almost everything else she did, it was crossing a line that most people wouldn’t. She did it because it thrilled her. It was just that simple. She did it because it was, like so much else that made her happy, dangerous and self-destructive and just a little bit sick.

Most of Cassandra's poor decisions are in direct correlation to her relationship with alcohol; drinking is the tool that she has chosen to employ in an effort to cover up old wounds that tend to resurface regularly. It's unfortunate, and she fully acknowledges her need to clean up, but she struggles with self-worth and an unrequited desire for genuine happiness.

She learned quickly that music sounded better, people were nicer, and she was prettier when life’s rough edges had been smoothed over with a little alcohol.

Unfortunately, one of her adventures leads her into the bed of an international traveler who, as it turns out, may be hiding some secrets of his own; when she wakes up the morning after, he is dead...still in bed, next to her. GAH! 

This, she thought with a terrible certainty, might really be the moment she would look back upon as the point where it all began to unravel.

As usual, Bohjalian weaves a crafty tale, full of details and careful plot development; he introduces another character, one who has been tasked with tying up the loose ends of that evening, and Cassandra is forced to admit that she may be in more trouble than she can handle. 

It was while crossing Fifth Avenue near the library that she felt it: a prickle of unease along her skin. A shiver along the back of her neck. She knew the word from a psychology course she’d taken in college: scopaesthesia. The idea was you could sense when you were being watched.

While this is not my favorite of his novels, and I found myself a little distracted during some of the narrative about Russian ties and international money-laundering networks (although super timely!), overall this was an entertaining read. Often cringe-worthy, as Cassandra digs herself deeper and deeper into an isolating existence, Bohjalian remains one of the best at crafting flawed, broken characters who manage to survive unimaginable circumstances.  

 

 

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