Wednesday, November 14, 2012
Trafficked by Kim Purcell
Hannah believes she's being brought from Molodova to Los Angeles to become a nanny for a Russian family. But her American dream quickly spirals into a nightmare. The Platonovs force Hannah to work sixteen-hour days, won't let her leave the house, and seem to have a lot of secrets - from Hannah and from each other. Stranded in a foreign land with false documents, no money, and nobody who can help her, Hannah must find a way to save herself from her new status as a modern-day slave or risk losing the one thing she has left: her life.
Hannah, 17, thought that coming to the United States would help her make enough money to pay for her grandmother's badly needed eye operation and she could learn enough English to realize her dream of going to medical school. But right from the start, things aren't exactly on the up and up.
Trafficking of young girls is a real problem these days all over the world. Victims of trafficking are kept in conditions where they can't do anything because they have no money, no documents, no friends, no family, and too often, no hope. Hannah only wanted to make her life better after being orphaned by a terrorist bomb explosion that killed her parents, leaving her penniless. Now in Los Angeles, Hannah is at the mercy of the Sergey and Lillian Platonov and expected to care for their two children, Maggie and Michael, as well as keeping the house immaculate. Hannah was to take her meals in the kitchen and sleep in a small room in the basement.
It doesn't take Hannah long to realize that she is virtually imprisoned in the house, forbidden to go any further than the backyard. She is allowed to use the phone and has had no contract with her grandmother or best friend in Molodova. As Hannah discovers more and more about the family she is living with, and their shady friends and dealings, she also soon learns that Sergey knew her father and has held her captive with some information he had about him.
The only bright spot in Hannah's life is looking out the window and watching the teenage boy who lives in the house across the way from the Platonovs. Eventually she gets to know him and his friendship offers her some respite from her loneliness. But she is too ashamed to tell him what is happening to her.
This is Kim Purcell's debut novel and it is clear she has done some in-depth research into the trafficking of young people. This gritty story is realistically portrayed and the character are all well drawn, so much so that chills ran down my spine in several places in the novel. The conditions that Hannah lived under are getting more and more familiar to us as we read about people who have managed to escape their captors. People like Sergey and Lillian Platonov succeed at holding kids captive by isolating them from the rest of the world, making sure they have no money or contact with anyone who can help and instilling a sense of shame in them about their circumstances. And that is exactly how it happens in Trafficked.
This is a book everyone should read, especially teens and young adults who want to get out and explore the world while also being employed and who might easily be taken in by traffickers. An awareness of what It be careful of is always wise.
Kim Purcell has posted information about trafficking and where you can get help on her website here.
This book is recommended for readers age 14+
This book was borrowed from the Mid-Manhattan branch of the NYPL