trafficked“Trafficked” by Peg Brantley is the second in the Mex Anderson series. It is not necessary to have the previous book to understand this one. Any background information is included in the narrative, and there is no unnecessary summarizing of the previous book.

I start with a caution; this book deals with a difficult social problem, and it is not easy to read. “Trafficked” is frightening in its realism and disturbing in its implication for the world in which we live. Every day children, mostly girls, disappear in THIS this country, and are dragged into the disturbing world of prostitution and drugs. The problem is upsetting, and mainstream media mostly overlook it; all the more reason to read about it.

The book is disturbing because the girls themselves write it in three first person narratives.  Jayla Imani Thomas, fifteen, is smart, from a poor part of town, and used to fending for herself. Alexis Emily Halston, seventeen, has everything money can buy except involved parents. Olivia Emma Campbell, twelve, just wants someone to pay attention to her. All three fall victim to human traffickers.

In between the chilling narratives by the girls, is the story of Mex Anderson who searches for them. I will not give away the plot, but the atmosphere is frantic and the pace is rapid as leads go nowhere and the pressure to find the girls before it is too late escalates. In the midst of this, Mex has personal struggles of his own to juggle.

Brantley researched this difficult subject well. At the start of each chapter, she reminds readers that this happens here, in the United States, every day, by inserting quotes on human trafficking from newspapers and investigative reports, or case histories from other documented sources.

This is not an easy book to read. By mixing engaging fiction with startling reality, Brantley produced an exceptional book. Her well-articulated and yet sensitive treatment of three girls who found themselves caught up in human trafficking make it a book that everyone, parents and especially teens, should read.

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