What do you do if you’re in trouble?
When Michelle runs away from her drug-addicted mother, she has just enough money to make it to New York City, where she hopes to move in with a friend. But once she arrives at the bustling Port Authority, she is confronted with the terrifying truth: she is alone and out of options.
Then she meets Devon, a good-looking, well-dressed guy who emerges from the crowd armed with a kind smile, a place for her to stay, and eyes that seem to understand exactly how she feels.
But Devon is not what he seems to be, and soon Michelle finds herself engulfed in the world of child prostitution where he becomes her “Daddy” and she his “Little Peach.” It is a world of impossible choices, where the line between love and abuse, captor and savior, is blurred beyond recognition.
This hauntingly vivid story illustrates the human spirit’s indomitable search for home, and one girl’s struggle to survive.
“You only missin’ if somebody looking for you. Understand? We ain’t missin’, Peach. We just gone.”
I read a lot of books and many have left their mark on me, but very rarely am I left speechless like I am with this book. Yes, this 200-page book has a heartbreaking magnitude that many other emotional full length novels can’t achieve. It’s not a book designed for enjoyment, but to raise awareness of every day tragedies that occur around us while we ourselves are fortunate to never experience them.
“Unlike a bag of heroin, a girl can be sold again and again…”
This story focuses on a 14-year old girl Michelle, and how she’s lured deep into a prostitution ring by a good-looking, sweet-talking pimp who becomes her ‘Daddy.’ Before that part of her life began though, she grew up in an unstable home environment with only her elderly grandfather who truly cared for her. After his death, her mother’s drug addiction and the revolving door of lecherous guys in her home motivate her to run away and begin anew.
“Ain’t you even gonna ask me where I’m going?”
“Can’t nothin’ be worse than here. You smart Michelle. Not like me.”
When she arrives in New York though, she truly realizes how alone she is. Her vulnerability and helplessness attracts Devon’s attention, and with an easy smile, traps her into a life of prostitution she never expected.
“I got you, all right? I’m gonna take care of you, ‘Chelle. I swear.”
This book was not easy to read. I felt sick and wanted to throw up in some of the scenes that were beyond heartbreaking. Besides Michelle, two other girls are introduced – Kat and Baby, and their respective roles only add an even more somber, sad layer to the story. But to me, the saddest thing about this all is that these girls are so immersed in their cruel environment that they can’t distinguish between what’s right and wrong, what they should want and what they should do, and who’s enemy, who’s foe. They’re just so lost.
“I don’t know if I should be scared.
I don’t know if I should be thankful.
I have nowhere else to go.”
While I didn’t cry at all when I read this book, I pretty much felt like arrows were piercing right through my chest. Quite frankly, this is an ugly book. It’s an awful book! There are times I wish I could unread it. And the only reason why I can feel this way about a book and still 5 star it is because of how REAL this story felt. This is realistic fiction at its finest, so strong and compelling that there was no way I could separate fiction from reality. And honestly, anyone with a heart and even an ounce of compassion wouldn’t be able to.
The story ends in both a bleak and hopeful manner, and the author’s note that quickly follows is equally as gripping and powerful as the story she delivered. I think the best way to end my review is with this quote from Michelle as her story is told to readers:
“I think you’ll understand, even if you can’t do much. That counts for something, I guess – the way you look at me, like I’m not bad. Like deep inside, I’m just a kid who didn’t mean to.
I didn’t mean to. I swear.
I thought he was my friend.”
Despite the truckload of triggers this book has, it’s still a book I highly recommend to everyone. Michelle’s voice – along with the many other girls who are going through the same ordeal – needs to be heard.
Rating: 5 stars!!