Saturday, August 3, 2013

Traps, by MacKenzie Bezos

Traps is the story of four women, each leading a somewhat constricted life that will change over the course of the four days in which the novel takes place. Dana is a veteran who now works in private security in the Los Angeles area; she cannot commit to her lovable boyfriend Ian, who is also a cancer patient. She fears that she is a person who will also do everything best alone. Dana's current assignment is guarding Jessica, an Academy Award-winning actress who is essentially house-bound because of her fear of the paparazzi. This fear is compounded by the fact that her father has several times betrayed her, selling her out for the money the tabloids will pay him if they get a good photo op. Nonetheless, when she finds out her father is in the hospital and his dog has been left alone at his house, she, Dana, and another guard head to Las Vegas to rescue the dog and assess her father's situation.

Meanwhile, 17-year-old Vivian is living in Las Vegas with her twin babies, dependent on occasional prostitution to make ends meet. Her journey begins when the exterminator tells her that the crawl space under her rental house has more spiders than he has ever seen and she and the babies need to get out of the house for awhile. At a diner on the outside Las Vegas, she finds a "help wanted" notice pinned to a bulletin board. She responds to the ad and gets the job helping Lynn, an older woman who operates a dog rescue operation. Lynn is a recovering alcoholic with one hand missing; her social circle seems to be limited to the dogs she cares for.

I don't want to say too much about the events that help the four women see themselves and their futures differently or reveal how the two pairs are eventually linked. Suffice it to say that I found the story uplifting--despite barely making it out of the first chapter, in which Dana is undergoing testing that involves subduing an attacking dog. In fact, there are a few too many dogs in the book--but I enjoyed it nonetheless. Bezos's writing style is not flashy--Geraldine Brooks's jacket blurb described it as having a "chiseled quality," an apt characterization. Traps is a book I'm happy to have read, and I look forward to reading more from this author (who happens to be married to the founder of Amazon, Jeff Bezos).

Favorite passage:
. . . everyone deserves to feel known for the things they choose to offer up themselves.

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