“Forty-eight hours after leaving her husband’s body at the base of the stairs, Tanya Dubois cashes in her credit cards, dyes her hair brown, demands a new name from a shadowy voice over the phone, and flees town. It’s not the first time.
She meets Blue, a female bartender who recognizes the hunted look in a fugitive’s eyes and offers her a place to stay. With dwindling choices, Tanya-now-Amelia accepts. An uneasy―and dangerous―alliance is born.
It’s almost impossible to live off the grid today, but Amelia-now-Debra and Blue have the courage, the ingenuity, and the desperation, to try. Hopscotching from city to city, Debra especially is chased by a very dark secret…can she outrun her past?
With heart-stopping escapes and devious deceptions, The Passenger is an amazing psychological thriller about defining yourself while you pursue your path to survival. One thing is certain: the ride will leave you breathless.”
My Thoughts: Poor Tanya. That pretty much sums up the book because that is what you end up doing for most of the novel – shaking your head and pitying her for her bad luck.
Poor Tanya-Amelia-Debra-…she cannot catch a break. On the run for some unknown event in her past, she hits roadblock after roadblock. The thing is that her attempts to flee are not hare-brained schemes. She knows what she needs to do and somehow makes it happen. It is just that one thing or another catches her off-guard and puts her back on the defensive. It makes for an intense page-turner as you frantically wonder if she is ever going to get to rest.
The Passenger, told through Tanya’s eyes, is in many ways a study of the psychological trauma such isolated living causes a person. For, after seven years pretending to be a different person, Tanya definitely has issues. Her opinion of people is about as low as it can get. While she only hints at the reasons for the lack of trust she has for pretty much anyone who crosses her path, you can tell this knowledge was gleaned at great personal expense. This mysterious past and the glimpses into its darkness heighten your sympathy for this girl as she loses herself one piece at a time.
One of the subjects Ms. Lutz tackles in The Passenger is this idea of survival at any cost. Without knowing exactly what Tanya did that forced her to go into her own version of a witness protection program, there is the underlying conviction that she is not a bad person out to do bad things. She does not want to break any laws; similarly, she does not want to hurt anyone. Yet, when you are on your own, hiding your identity to save your life, what are you willing to do to protect it? Do you stop at breaking certain laws? Do you add violence to the mix? Is it truly survival at any cost even though the cost might be your fundamental identity as a person? Watching Tanya struggle to survive, the definitions of guilt and innocence blur, and readers must decide for themselves just how much guilt for her actions truly lays at her own feet.
Ms. Lutz does a fantastic job capturing Tanya’s fragility hidden underneath the tough exterior she uses as armor to protect herself from all life continues to throw at her. She does this by letting Tanya tell her own story, thereby creating a sense of trust between narrator and reader that is essential to viewing Tanya in the most favorable light. There is something about her struggle which is genuine and which allows you to brush aside any doubts as to the veracity of the story through her eyes.
It would be very easy to dismiss The Passenger as nothing more than another suspense story with a potentially unreliable narrator because superficially that is exactly what it is. However, it is the psychological toll of such constant suspense and danger that occurs within Tanya is the true meat of the story alongside the morality questions raised by Tanya and her entire situation. The action makes for a thrilling page-turner; the ethics and psychology contained within the action makes for a compelling story within a story.