05. November 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Contemporary Fiction, Courtney, Teen Books

Trafficked by Kim Purcell, 384 pages, read by Courtney, on 10/25/2012

Hannah is from Moldova, one of the poorest former Soviet states. After her parents die in a bombing, she is left to take care of what’s left of her family. She works hard every day helping her grandmother whose eyesight is failing. Things are tough, but they quickly get worse. One of Hannah’s uncles vanishes without a trace and Hannah is forced to drop out of school to support her family. When she is approached by a friend of her aunt’s with an offer to move to America to work as a nanny, she jumps at the chance. She is promised $400 a week, which she plans to send home so that her grandmother can get the eye surgery she so desperately needs. She begins her journey from Moldova with nothing but hope, but things start going wrong from there on out. Her passport is taken and she is given a fake name. She is told to “act Russian” or she’ll be caught and sent to jail. She does her best, still acting in good faith. When she meets the family she will be a nanny for, she hopes for the best. Unfortunately, the mother of the family is angry and exacting. Hannah is rarely, if ever, allowed to leave the house and, when she asks for her payment, she is told that she actually owes the family for her travel and agent fees. Hannah had hoped to be able to send money home and take English classes at night. Her disappointment at being forced to work all day and all night is palpable. She adores the children, but constantly lives in fear of their parents. When she does something that the mother of the family doesn’t like, the punishments get increasingly severe. Escape is not an option. Hannah fears imprisonment and is told over and over that if anyone suspects she isn’t legal, she will be sent to jail and beaten. She is also told that her friends and family back in Moldova are at risk if she doesn’t obey.
While Hannah’s story is fictional, the circumstances she experiences are not unusual. Hundreds of thousands of people are trafficked into other countries to become slaves. Some are domestic slaves, like Hannah, some are forced into prostitution (which Hannah is threatened with), some are forced to fight in armies or militias; there are many types of human trafficking and all of them are illegal. Unfortunately, in many cases, the victim is threatened with violence against them or their loved ones. They are often told they’ll be the ones in trouble for illegally being in the country to which they have been transported. In some countries, this can actually be the case. The plight of those who have been trafficked is rarely addressed in YA fiction, which makes this book all that much more important. Moreover, it is a well-written and fast-paced story; guaranteed to keep the reader on edge as Hannah’s fate plays out.

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