Apr 06

Book Review: The Passenger

The PassengerThe Passenger by Lisa Lutz

I’d read Lisa Lutz’s THE SPELLMAN FILES and found them wacky madcap fun, so I decided to give this a chance. It starts out with a little of the zaniness of the other books, which didn’t suit the mood of the novel. This novel aims to be a very dark psycho-thriller about a woman on the run.
It mostly succeeds. The protagonist is a young woman in her late twenties (?) going by Tanya DuBois, nee Tanya Pitts. When Mr. DuBois dies by falling down the stairs, Tanya decides her best bet is to go on the run and get a new identity. She wasn’t that happy being Tanya, and reasons she’ll like her new Amelia identity better. While on the run, she meets an enigmatic bartender named Blue who is impressed by her Amelia passport. Soon Tanya’s life and Blue’s life are intertwined, as they both have reasons to want to be hidden. Of the two, Blue is a far more interesting character, being completely unhinged morally, but Tanya’s the one whose life we get to follow.

Tanya has a brief stop as a schoolteacher in Wyoming, living in the basement of the old mansion that houses the school. She struggles as a teacher (using someone else’s credentials) and even here her life on the run colors her worldview. She makes the kids plot out road trips using roadmaps of the US. She laments their poor skills at hiding during a rainy recess game of hide-and-seek. She feels pity and hope for her favorite kid, and hopes he can escape the town some day.

Soon her crash space time goes from months to weeks to mere days, and she starts becoming new people faster and faster. Eventually danger catches up to Tanya, and she does things that are just about as bad (if not worse than) the act that made her flee her hometown. It’s exciting to think about her adventures of trying not to get found (in one instance she’s recognized in a rather far-fetched way) but I couldn’t really agree with a lot of her decisions. She left so many loose ends and made so many bad choices and trusted so many obviously very dangerous people (such as Dominick, the stalker-cop) that this could be the first book in a trilogy about a life imploding. Still, it’s a good read, and I rather liked it.

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