The Passenger - Lisa Lutz
Published: March 1, 2016 (upcoming) by Simon & Schuster
Rating: 4 Stars
When Tanya Dubois discovers her husband dead on the floor of their home, she doesn’t cry, doesn’t call the police, and doesn’t stick around. 48 hours later, she’s in a new town with a new name, new IDs, new hair color. And this isn’t the first time.
But then she meets Blue, who looks almost as hunted as Tanya feels. After committing the unthinkable, the two women form an uneasy alliance—but Tanya can’t help but wonder about Blue’s motives…
When I first picked this up, I definitely anticipated a “Catch Me If You Can” spy-type novel. The Passenger is not that; instead, it’s the story of an average woman, like you or me, trapped by impossible circumstances into running for her life. She’s been running for a decade, and now it’s all she knows.
Naturally, you don’t find out the full story—why Tanya is running—until the end. You can pick up bits and pieces along the way, though, and by the time I got the entire story, the only things I hadn’t pretty much figured out were the details. I don’t mean to say it was predictable, necessarily; the hints and vague exposition seemed pretty deliberate, and I enjoyed being able to slowly put the pieces together rather than getting to the end and needing it spelled out for me (which happens more than I would like to admit!).
The prose is spare, but it gets the job done, and drives home the point that Tanya—or Sonia, or Emma, or Amelia, or whatever name she’s currently going by—is focused entirely on doing what it takes to survive. There’s no time for long winded, flowery descriptions of her surroundings or her emotions when her money is running out and she needs to find shelter. Tanya keeps her readers at arms length (which, when you find out her history, is more than understandable).
In some ways, this style was refreshing: it told me everything I needed to know without going into unnecessary or confusing detail. It was very straightforward, which I can definitely appreciate. On the other hand, I live in the details; I like intimate stories, and I often have little patience for narrators keeping me at arms length. In some spots, it also almost felt like an outline of a story, as if Lutz was writing brief storyline notes and planned to go back and fill them in later. This didn’t happen often, but when several days or a week passed in the span of a page, it did take me out of the experience a little bit.
The truly important thing to know about this book is that it took me a mere five hours to read, so if you’re looking for something that’s going to grab you and not let go, The Passenger is it!