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Saturday, October 3, 2015

"Traffick" Characters Work toward Hope

Traffick, Ellen Hopkins (Margaret K McElderry Books)

Arriving late to this series – Traffick is the sequel to Tricks – I can’t tell exactly how the two fit together. What is clear, though, is the author’s concern for the subject matter (child sex trafficking), which reads through each line on the page. The five main characters tell their stories through alternating first-person verses, and they are each engaging in their own way.

At first I was frankly a bit distracted by the shift between characters -- including occasional verses by minor characters -- and felt like I was often confused as to which I was reading about, especially when it came to the girls. The details of each story are painful, but these teens are mostly past their most harrowing experiences and working toward making something of their futures. Still, there are supporting characters who add to the details of child sex trafficking and abuse, and maybe that’s why I found it somewhat shocking that they could be almost dreamy about the future. They are, after all, teens who are working their way through horrific circumstances most of us have never faced. That they should have any hope left at all is fairly amazing.

Then I realized that that was perhaps the point. They are teenagers, young people. They have been bruised and battered, and their faith has been sorely tested – some more than others – but they still manage to have hope. Not perfect unrealistic faith in good triumphing over evil, but hope nonetheless. And it really feels like they’ve earned the right to their hope for better days.

It’s clear that Ms. Hopkins cares a great deal not only for the story being told but also for her audience of readers, as she blends brutal reality with hope. I can see now why her fans are so loyal. Traffick is a compelling tale woven from the facts of a horrific reality.  It will have you pulling for that happy ending but also gaining a deeper understanding of the difficulty of the world many young people face.

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