A Walk Across the Sun by Corban Addison
This novel is the February selection of my bookclub, Reading Liberally. Our discussion this week should be especially interesting because the author will be joining us.
The book is about human trafficking, and it is glimpsed in many of its facets here: sex work, pornography, drug transport, slavery. The book opens with the devastation of the Christmas tsunami that killed hundreds of thousands of people in Southeast and South Asia. Two young girls in Chennai, on the southeast coast of India, are orphaned and through a series of misfortunes wind up in the hands of traffickers who take them to Bombay. One is forced into prostitution and the other is taken to Paris to be enslaved in an Indian restaurant. Meanwhile, Thomas Clarke is a young lawyer in Washington DC who, for a variety of reasons, leaves DC to work as an intern for an NGO in India that combats trafficking. He takes on the challenge of helping the two girls, and the book is about that effort.
It’s a compelling story. At times, it seems unbelievably gruesome. At other times, one suspects that the author is letting us (and the characters) off easy–the reality must be far worse than what is portrayed here. But reality might make the story unreadable, and as it is the situation is infuriating. Nonetheless, the book exposes a horrifying trade that we should all work to stop. The book makes that abundantly clear.
I don’t want to give away anything about the book’s ending, but I will say I might have made some different choices. Still, it’s a very satisfying read and I recommend it.