Award-winning El Universal journalist Cacho has a history of crusading for human rights through her work. Here, she chronicles her global travels to document the world of human trafficking.
Loosely organized into geographic regions first and then into the ways and means of the trafficking industry, the book never lacks for information. Cacho met untold numbers of sex slaves, pimps, law enforcement agents and rescue workers, and it’s obvious she learned a great deal from all of them. This wealth of material, however, causes some problems for the author. Instead of giving detailed accounts, Cacho skims the surfaces of most stories in what seems like an attempt to include as much information as possible. This has the effect of making the book simultaneously dense and shallow, urgent and haphazard. Combined with a tendency to move on from a topic without fully supporting it, there is an underlying sense that the author had so much to say, she was unable to condense and synthesize it into something manageable. Further, many of her references are more than 10 years old, leading to questions of relevance. Directly addressing the reason for this would have been useful in allaying reader concerns about her research. Cacho also examines topics intimately related to trafficking, like money laundering, but these sections suffer the same lack of depth and clarity. What make the book palatable despite these deficiencies are the obvious dedication the author carries for her subject and her gift with words. Cacho is at her best when she loses herself in her interactions with her subjects; in those moments, the writing is so elegant that it purges memories of clunky exposition.
It’s clear that Cacho, with such passion for her subject, understands far more than her audience will. Unfortunately, she fails to make the connections for those who don’t have her background knowledge.