100-Character Breakdown: An emotional, well-crafted, and well-researched book about a challenging, relevant issue.
Genre: Young adult, fiction
Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers (February 2012)
In Trafficked, Kim Purcell tackles the challenging topic of sex trafficking with an emotional, well-crafted, and well-researched story. When Hannah’s parents die in a terrorist bombing, she is left low on money, struggling to survive in Moldova. So when she receives an offer to work as a nanny in Los Angeles, she takes the opportunity. Before she leaves home, she hears of girls being sold as sex slaves, and she believes she won’t end up like them. But she finds herself in a foreign country, where she has no money, a lack of understanding for the society, no documentation, and no allies to help her escape her circumstances. She works 16-hour days and doesn’t get paid. She isn’t allowed to leave the house. And while she connect with the children, the parents are a different story. The mother is abusive, and the father is predatory. Both parents have moments of bad and good, leaving Hannah confused and unsure who to trust.
She finds small ways to survive and stay who she is — she finds comfort seeing the normal life of a boy her age next door. She shows her resilience as she searches for answers of what really happened to her uncle, who disappeared before she left Moldova, and her parents. Hannah is a finely crafted, strong heroine and an intelligent young woman. This only emphasizes the detriments of her situation when it begins to break her. Purcell carefully and powerfully represents the issues of sex trafficking and modern slavery as she delves into Hannah’s trauma, showing just how damaging the situation can be. Despite the challenging topic, Purcell creates a novel that engages the reader and allows them to empathize with Hannah’s trauma. Trafficked is in third-person, but the writing and point of view paint an incredibly close and relatable portrait of Hannah. Purcell adds an element of suspense in the thriller-like pacing that makes it difficult to put the book down. As Trafficked explores this issue that is so important to address, the novel is believable and honest in a way that makes it all the more heartbreaking to read.