Reading/Interest Level: Young Adult
Author: Peggy Kern
Publisher: Balzer & Bray
Fourteen-year-old Michelle is kicked out of her house after her loving grandfather dies, leaving her with her crackhead mother. She runs away to make a new start in New York City but is quickly lured into a prostitution ring by a man named Devon. Michelle and her two other "sisters," Kat and Baby, sleep all day and work at night. Devon keeps them on narcotics to help them through the long nights. Eventually, Kat decides to quit the drugs, which makes Devon mad. After Kat's beaten senseless, Michelle, now called Little Peach, realizes that her "daddy" doesn't care about her and will never let her go. She takes matters into her own hands and barely escapes with her life. The ending is left open, but it's implied that Michelle is able to get help from a social worker and leave her hazy, drug-stained nights behind.
This book is a heartbreaking and brutally honest look at child prostitution in New York City. An author's note confirms that most of what is detailed in the book is based on real experiences of real girls who were trafficked into sex work at a young age. While it is an important issue, the somewhat optimistic ending does not inspire much hope for some of the girls still left in Devon's care, and there is not much information given on how readers can help prevent this. There are also very intense sexual and violent scenes, making this book very dark and probably not a good choice for readers under eighteen years old. Overall, it's an honest look at a real (and very sad and depressing) problem in our country.
*Contains severe language, severe sexual content, and moderate violence.