Trafficked by Kim Purcell
Seventeen-year-old Hannah travels from Moldova to America with fake documents to be a nanny for a Russian-American family. Hannah is told that in exchange for taking care of two children and some “light” cleaning, she’ll make $400 a week on top of room and board–plenty to pay for her babushka’s surgery in no time at all.
But America does not turn out to be the land of milk and honey after all. And Hannah does not find herself rolling in dough. Instead, after a torturous journey, Hannah is virtually imprisoned in a house where she is forced to work long hours, enduring frequent verbal and physical abuse, for no pay. Hannah is told that she must work off the cost of her travel before she will receive any wages; it could be years before she makes any money at all. Not that she would be allowed to leave the house to spend it.
Hannah is caught up in a serious predicament with nobody to turn to for help. She is isolated in the house, not allowed to use the phone, and the family for whom she works refuses to mail the letters she writes to her family. Without money, the proper documents, or the ability to speak much English, Hannah has nowhere to go. Further, the family threatens to have her family and friends back home hurt if she tries to escape.
Stuck between a rock and a hard place, Hannah keeps hoping that if she just does her job well enough and long enough, the situation will improve. But what if it never gets any better after all?
Kim Purcell’s debut Trafficked is a bleak, but eye-opening book. Written in third person, Trafficked has a relatively matter-of-fact, straightforward style; there’s not a lot of fluff or adornment, which is fitting for the book’s emotional content. One should not begin this novel expecting any harsh realities to get sugarcoated or tied up neatly. While there is some hope to be had, the majority of the book is, in all honesty, a bit soul-crushing. And I mean that in the best way possible. I would expect no less from a book based on true stories about human trafficking. Trafficked has joined Want to go Private? and Room on the list of books about social issues that made me physically ill while reading.
It is utterly horrifying to think that this kind of modern-day slavery is going on underneath our noses all the time. If you think human trafficking is a thing of the past, or that it is restricted to any one cultural group, Trafficked will wake you up. Once you have been exposed to the real plight of trafficked teens and kids, it is hard to ignore. Trafficked is a book that makes you want to do something. Purcell’s book is at times graphic, intense, and emotionally charged. Though it is by no means easy to stomach, it is the perfect book for teens and adults interested in social awareness and injustice.
Kim Purcell is donating 20% of her earnings from Trafficked to help kids and teens. She has also compiled a list of some of the ways you can help here.