Author: Kim Purcell
Publisher: Viking Children's Books
Pages: Hardcover; 352
Release Date: February 16, 2012
Source: Publicity Company
Intended Reading Group: Young Adult
Content Screening: Sexual situations; Violence
HDB Rating: 4 Keys to My Heart
Recommended to: Readers who aren't afraid of a realistic and gritty read.
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Hannah believes she's being brought from Moldova 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.
In Trafficked, Purcell leads the reader on a no holds barred look into sixteen-year-old Hannah's life. Instead of the comfortable and easy job she was promised, her reality is sixteen hour work days and back breaking housework. Lillian, the mother of the home, turns out to be uncompromising, selfish and verbally (sometimes even physically) abusive. Sergey, the father of the home, is secretive and Hannah is leery about what his intentions with her really are. Trapped in the house, without pay, not allowed to speak English or interact with any other people, Hannah is an island. Who can she turn to for help?
I'm going to admit that there are some very uncomfortable scenes in this book. As I said, Purcell really does show the harsh reality of Hannah's predicament. This is a story that will gut you and might even make you psychically ill at times. The sexual and violent nature of parts of this book, while completely necessary, definitely makes it a difficult read. Hannah's life isn't the easy one she hoped for. She is constantly struggling to just keep her mind and her body intact. The small victories she has in the story, a little sarcastic comment here, a long awaited bus trip there, are a reminder of how isolated and mistreated she really is. Hannah is broken, and this book isn't afraid to show that.
What really impressed me were the layers in Trafficked. Although Hannah is the main focus, there are other characters who are simultaneously fighting their own battles. Maggie and Michael, the two children, are suffering from neglect. Their mother is constantly studying, and it's almost as though her children are an afterthought. A nuisance. They actually end up being the one thing Hannah cares for, despite her situation. Then there is Colin, the boy next door, who is fighting his own battle with his weight, his future and his divorced parents. I thought he was so important because his struggle is put into perspective when compared with Hannah's. My hope is that this will open some teen eyes and help them see that their family lives might not be as bad as they think they are.
Trafficked deals with issues that are well worth knowing about, and it does it in a gritty and realistic way. I'll fully admit that I powered through this book, mostly because I just had to know what happened to Hannah next. Call it rubber-necking if you will. Hannah definitely suffers some atrocities. Still, the way that Purcell expertly weaves so much truth into Hannah's fictional life is amazing. By the time I finished reading I was equal parts angry and saddened. If you are a reader who is okay with a gritty and realistic read, Trafficked is one that is well worth your time.
FTC Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. I was not monetarily compensated for my opinion.