Leaving her Dublin home and dysfunctional family at 14, Moran became homeless before she turned to prostitution to survive. Her stirring memoir chronicles her seven-year journey on the streets and in the brothels and examines the costs to society and her soul.
The author’s experience convinced her of several things. First, she realized that prostitution is a collective experience among the women caught in this tragic lifestyle, and second, the job is never glamorous. On the second page, Moran clearly states the goal of her book: “exposing prostitution for what it really is…the illumination that comes from shining a light in dark places.” Writing down her story took the author 10 years. The first section of the memoir details Moran’s dismal childhood, complete with social exclusion, economic hardships, parental mental illness, and lack of social advantages. These conditions helped to create the foundation for her entry into prostitution. In the second section, the author skillfully debunks the myths perpetrated by society and the media about prostitution—e.g., the high-class hooker or the control prostitutes supposedly wield or pleasure they experience. The final section recounts Moran’s struggle to escape the lifestyle and re-enter larger society. The author’s writing style is restrained yet piercingly clear and forceful. In each section, she dissects the harmful effects of prostitution to herself and the women and girls she came to know. Though the physical abuse she encountered was significant and terrifying, the severe emotional turmoil has been even more difficult to bear. Today, the author still struggles with overcoming the denial of “the reality of her own experience.” If at times somewhat repetitive, this minor quibble takes nothing away from the author’s discussion of a subject that needs more attention.
Moran’s thoughtful, highly readable, and provocative treatise shines a necessary light on a dark and underdiscussed topic.