The first time I came face to face with an underage prostitute, I was 19 years old. I knew what I was about to witness as I entered Sonagachi, The Red Light Area of Kolkata, India, but I did not know how to prepare myself for the experience. The smell of urine and booze filled the humid night air and the sounds of car horns, bicycle bells and yelling street vendors were overwhelming. Strangely though, eerily even, was the way in which the prostitutes and madames silently stared at me and my small group of westerners as we walked down the street. They knew we were there to look at them, to witness their world and draw our own conclusions. I don't even remember the exact reason I wanted to go there that night. But it doesn't matter. What I saw there, what I felt there that night changed me forever.
Since then, I have poured over books and resources and podcasts and Ted Talks addressing the subject of human trafficking and bonded slavery. I have made friends with researchers and professors and authors who have taught me about the why's and how's of this insidious international market of flesh and labor. I live in a city that takes the terrible ranking of the nation's 2nd highest trafficked area.
This topic is important to me. Very important.
Elora Ramirez has found a way to take this sickeningly difficult topic and weave it into a tale of beauty and redemption and hope.
Every Shattered Thing is the story about Stephanie...
Stephanie fights reality every day. The voices inside, the ones declaring her worth, deem her broken, used and dirty. She is an object. A toy. Something to be tossed aside when bored. Who will believe her if she whispers the truth about her wrecking ball of a family? Eventually, her secret explodes and the person who means the most to her knows just how shattered she is and why she's so afraid.
But rescue is closer than she realizes.
Hidden in plain sight, her horror hasn’t been ignored by everyone. Racing against the truth of what she faces, forces are joining together and developing a plan to free her from the hell in her own backyard. And while she’s at her lowest point, she’s hit with the beauty of love at any cost - redemption in the face of ruin.
Will it be enough?
*Warning: Contains mature content that may not be suitable for younger audiences*
To me, Stephanie has become the face of so many young people who come from hopeless situations and are trapped in a world where their value is marked by dollars. Her story is gut-wrenching and tragic, yet she cannot seem to crush the hope that continues to reappear magically in her heart. She is an ordinary girl with an extraordinary ability to love and protect. The author does a heartbreakingly gorgeous job of describing her relationship with Pace, her 4 year old brother and her heart to protect him at all costs. Depicting these characters with an everyday familiarity, they eased their way into my heart.
Stephanie's relationship with her boyfriend Kevin and mentor-friends Emma and Jude continued to remind me that I have a role to play in the lives of others who are struggling with their own nightmares. They did not recoil from the darkness of Stephanie's story, but instead moved close to it, doing their imperfect best to love her and understand her world. The ending is not all rainbows and unicorns and has left me with an ache that I don't want to go away. It reminds me that this story is real and that I can still be a part of the solution.
I highly recommend you pick up a few copies for you and your friends and family so that you too can be awed and inspired by the death-defying journey so many young people in our communities face every single day.
About The Author
Elora Ramirez lives in Austin, Texas with her chef-husband. At the age of four, she taught herself how to read and write, cutting her teeth on books like Dr. Suess and writing anywhere she could find the space—including her Fisher Price kitchen set, the pages of picture books and Highlights Magazine. Since then, she's grown to love the way words feel as they swell within her bones. Writing holy and broken is her calling, and pushing back the darkness and pursuing beauty through story is her purpose. She loves hip-hop, wishes she lived by the beach and cannot write without copious amounts of coffee, chocolate, and her husband's lavender liqueur.
Check out Elora's Story 101 Workshops and other cool resources she has on her website. Follow her on Twitter and become her Facebook Friend!
You should also click this link for cool Give Aways from the author!