Along with a lot of country (but not nearly enough), I've become increasingly aware of human trafficking and how this happens right here in my country, my state, my city. Oklahoma City is the crossroads of America, with major interstates crossing through and an easy route to and from Mexico, so it's unfortunately a hotspot for human trafficking. I've done some volunteer work for OATH - Oklahomans Against the Trafficking of Humans, but wish there was more I could do. Helping raise awareness is something we can all do, and I hope books like Trafficked by Kim Purcell help do just that.
Trafficked is a young adult book about a young girl from Moldova, a former part of the USSR near the Ukraine and Romania. Hannah leaves her life their behind when it becomes clear and she can't earn enough money to keep her and her ailing grandmother afloat and is given the opportunity to come to America. She's promised $400 a week to work as a nanny for a Russian family. She'll be able to work on her English and save money so she can go to college in America. But her dream quickly becomes a nightmare as she becomes a slave to the family she works for, with threats to her family in Moldova and to herself if she doesn't go along with everything they say. She could end up arrested, and the family paints horrible pictures of how America treats illegals. She could be sold into prostitution. They'll hurt her family. What can she do?
The family she lives with lives in a normal upper-middle class neighborhood, painting the picture that this can happen anywhere. And sadly, it does. The question is, will we do something? I just watched the movie Sarah's Key (which was great and the book is excellent), and one of the characters talks about how she can't understand how people did nothing when the Nazis were mistreating the Jews. We criticize those who stood by and did nothing when slavery was carried out in the open. But are we any better? I hope we are.
If you aren't familiar with trafficking, this is a good place to start. Purcell is a former journalist who put a lot of research into her novel, and she also worked with immigrants through teaching ESL and working with an organization in LA where she met many who had experiences similar to Hannah's. In addition to organizations like OATH (their website has resources that don't just pertain to OK), Purcell lists several ways to help and other organizations on her website. Also, I'd like to note that Trafficked is an age-appropriate YA book. I felt like the level of graphic detail was appropriate to YA, rather than to an adult book, so if you're thinking about sharing it with a teen or staying away from it because of the possible graphic content, please know that while it doesn't shy away from disturbing topics, it's not overly graphic. It's also just generally a good book - well written, fast paced and as enjoyable as a story like this can be.