Full of razors that cut—and razors to cut off shackles: a must.



A slim volume sharp as knives.

Lacing traditional fairy tales through real-life perils, Heppermann produces short poems with raw pain, scathing commentary and fierce liberation. There’s no linear arc; instead, girls buck and fight and hurt. One poem takes the expression “You Go, Girl!” literally, banishing anyone with “wetness, dryness, tightness, looseness, / redness, yellowing, blackheads, whiteheads, the blues.” In a structure heartbreakingly inverted from “The Three Little Pigs” (and nodding to “Rumpelstiltskin”), one girl’s body goes from “a house of bricks, / point guard on the JV team” to “a house of sticks, / kindling in Converse high-tops,” until finally “she’s building herself out of straw / as light as the needle swimming in her bathroom scale. / The smaller the number, the closer to gold.” She’s her own wolf, destroying herself. Sexual repression, molestation and endless beauty judgments bite and sting, causing eating disorders, self-injury, internalization of rules—and rebellion. A hypothetical miller’s daughter says, “No, I can’t spin that room full of straw into gold. / …. / No, I can’t give you the child; / the child will never exist.” Gretel’s act of eating will literally rescue Hansel; Red Riding Hood reclaims sexual agency, declaring, “If that woodsman shows up now, / I will totally kick his ass.”

Full of razors that cut—and razors to cut off shackles: a must. (author’s note, index of first lines, index of photographs) (Poetry. 13-17)

Pub Date: Sept. 23, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-06-228957-5

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: June 10, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2014

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The proximity to pain makes for a choppy narrative but also vitally draws attention to a global crisis



This memoir of modern domestic slavery ends with hope and determination, as young author Hall (born Shyima El-Sayed Hassan) is “one of the fortunate 2 percent” to be freed from servitude.

Shyima’s childhood in Egypt ends when her parents are blackmailed into turning over their 8-year-old daughter to a wealthy couple. Every day, Shyima cleans the five-story house and the 17-car garage, “standing on a stool doing the dishes” because she’s too tiny to reach the sink. When she’s 10, Shyima’s captors move to California, illegally trafficking her into the U.S. After two more years of hard labor and increasing ill health, a worried neighbor calls the police, and Shyima’s journey into freedom begins. A chain of Muslim and Christian foster parents (some protective, others exploitative) leads her to become an anti-slavery activist. Unsurprisingly, Hall’s representations of Arab and Muslim men are filtered through her appalling experiences. Though she acknowledges misogyny “is not what the Muslim faith is about,” readers should expect to find depictions that hew closely to negative stereotypes. Those readers prepared to brave a dense, adult tome could move from Hall’s memoir to John Bowe’s Nobodies: Modern American Slave Labor and the Dark Side of the New Global Economy (2007) for a deeper look.

The proximity to pain makes for a choppy narrative but also vitally draws attention to a global crisis . (Nonfiction. 13-16)

Pub Date: Jan. 21, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4424-8168-8

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Nov. 20, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2013

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Harrowing, yes—and inspiring.



The harrowing real-life stories of three girls who turned their experiences as sex-trafficked children into a fight to destroy the practice.

This set of brief biographies opens with 9-year-old Somaly Mam in Cambodia around 1979. Sold to a brothel by her ostensible caretaker, Somaly experiences rape, beatings, starvation and punishment—she is covered in snakes and sewage. Her torments may seem alien to some readers, at least partly due to inadequate contextualization of Cambodia’s historical moment (the immediate aftermath of genocide). It’s therefore useful that the next story is Minh Dang’s in 1990s California; her parents force her into prostitution when she’s only 10. Her story seems otherwise so commonplace American (she plays soccer, gets A’s in school, and is expected to attend and graduate from college) that the overlap between her experiences and Somaly’s seems that much more horrific. The final biography is of Maria Suarez, a Mexican immigrant who’s kidnapped, forced into a sexual relationship with an older man, arrested after his death, imprisoned for two decades and nearly deported on her eventual release. The girls’ stories could be too devastating to read save for each tale’s conclusion, detailing the efforts these women have made to rescue girls and eliminate childhood slavery. Minh Dang is upset when people speak of her as an inhumanly brave heroine; the focus here on activism after suffering may be enough to show the women as people, not victims.

Harrowing, yes—and inspiring. (glossary, resources, afterword) (Nonfiction. 14-17)

Pub Date: June 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4380-0453-2

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Barron's

Review Posted Online: April 16, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2014

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