Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Young Girls in Captivity | Wednesday Reads

Today, I'm highlighting books about girls meeting the challenge of having everything, even their rights as a human, stripped from them. These books are about girls in captivity or slavery of some kind or another. The thing I appreciate about all of the following books, is that they are based on real experiences girls have faced in the past, and even today.

While the African slave trade among European and American colonists is history, and World War II concentration camps are over, there are countless girls still caught in international sex trafficking rings around the world, as well as girls being brainwashed to be plural wives to men much older than themselves in the United States.

Each of these books has a protagonist with a unique background, but they all battle the challenge of oppression.

Copper Sun by Sharon M. Draper

"Amari's life was once perfect. Engaged to the handsomest man in her tribe, adored by her family, and living in a beautiful village, she could not have imagined everything could be taken away from her in an instant. But when slave traders invade her village and brutally murder her entire family, Amari finds herself dragged away to a slave ship headed to the Carolinas, where she is bought by a plantation owner and given to his son as a birthday present.

Survival seems all that Amari can hope for. But then an act of unimaginable cruelty provides her with an opportunity to escape, and with an indentured servant named Polly she flees to Fort Mose, Florida, in search of sanctuary at the Spanish colony. Can the illusive dream of freedom sustain Amari and Polly on their arduous journey, fraught with hardship and danger?"
- Goodreads Rating: 4.24

The Chosen One by Carol Lynch Williams

"Thirteen-year-old Kyra has grown up in an isolated community without questioning the fact that her father has three wives and she has twenty brothers and sisters, with two more on the way. That is, without questioning them much---if you don’t count her secret visits to the Mobile Library on Wheels to read forbidden books, or her meetings with Joshua, the boy she hopes to choose for herself instead of having a man chosen for her.

But when the Prophet decrees that she must marry her sixty-year-old uncle---who already has six wives---Kyra must make a desperate choice in the face of violence and her own fears of losing her family forever."
- Goodreads Rating: 3.91

Hush by Donna Jo Napoli

"Melkorka is a princess, the first daughter of a magnificent kingdom in medieval Ireland -- but all of this is lost the day she is kidnapped and taken aboard a marauding slave ship. Thrown into a world that she has never known, alongside people that her former country's laws regarded as less than human, Melkorka is forced to learn quickly how to survive. Taking a vow of silence, however, she finds herself an object of fascination to her captors and masters, and soon realizes that any power, no matter how little, can make a difference.

Based on an ancient Icelandic saga, award-winning author Donna Jo Napoli has crafted a heartbreaking story of a young girl who must learn to forget all that she knows and carve out a place for herself in a new world -- all without speaking a word."
- Goodreads Rating: 3.45

Farewell to Manzanar by Jeanne W. Houston, James D. Houston

"Jeanne Wakatsuki was seven years old in 1942 when her family was uprooted from their home and sent to live at Manzanar internment camp—with 10,000 other Japanese Americans. Along with searchlight towers and armed guards, Manzanar ludicrously featured cheerleaders, Boy Scouts, sock hops, baton twirling lessons and a dance band called the Jive Bombers who would play any popular song except the  nation's #1 hit: "Don't Fence Me In."

Farewell to Manzanar is the true story of one spirited Japanese-American family's attempt to survive the indignities of forced detention . . . and of a native-born American child who discovered what it was like to grow up behind barbed wire in the United States."
- Goodreads Rating: 3.44

Sold by Patricia McCormick

"Lakshmi is a thirteen-year-old girl who lives with her family in a small hut on a mountain in Nepal. Though she is desperately poor, her life is full of simple pleasures, like playing hopscotch with her best friend from school, and having her mother brush her hair by the light of an oil lamp. But when the harsh Himalayan monsoons wash away all that remains of the family’s crops, Lakshmi’s stepfather says she must leave home and take a job to support her family.
He introduces her to a glamorous stranger who tells her she will find her a job as a maid in the city. Glad to be able to help, Lakshmi journeys to India and arrives at “Happiness House” full of hope. But she soon learns the unthinkable truth: she has been sold into prostitution."
- Goodreads Rating: 4.09

Wildthorn by Jane Eagland

"Seventeen-year-old Louisa Cosgrove longs to break free from her respectable life as a Victorian doctor's daughter. But her dreams become a nightmare when Louisa is sent to Wildthorn Hall: labeled a lunatic, deprived of her liberty and even her real name. As she unravels the betrayals that led to her incarceration, she realizes there are many kinds of prison. She must be honest with herself - and others - in order to be set free. And love may be the key..."
- Goodreads Rating: 3.51

Before you go, please watch this short video about modern day slavery (it includes information on children and young women who are used for sexual exploitation, as well as children and young men who are coerced into being soldiers). It has a lot of shocking statistics, and is a real wake up call to those who think slavery is over.

For more information about and what you can do to fight the trafficking of girls and women, go here.


  1. A great non-fiction book on the subject is called Sex Trafficking : Inside the Business of Modern Slavery. It speaks out about how slavery is still practiced in EVERY country in the world.

  2. Thanks for sharing Becky. It's so sad that something so atrocious is so common-place, and yet I feel like not enough people talk about it.


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