The Road of Lost Innocence: The True Story of a Cambodian Heroine
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The Road of Lost Innocence: The True Story of a Cambodian Heroine

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4.29 of 5 stars 4.29  ·  rating details  ·  4,582 ratings  ·  747 reviews
A riveting and beautiful memoir of tragedy and hope–by a woman named to Time magazine’s list of the 100 most influential people in the world

Born in a village deep in the Cambodian forest, Somaly Mam was sold into sexual slavery by her grandfather when she was twelve years old. For the next decade she was shuttled through the brothels that make up the sprawling sex trade o...more
Paperback, 224 pages
Published July 28th 2009 by Spiegel & Grau (first published 2005)
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Petra X
Sad Update but first an admission. I'm a sucker, I'm easily taken in. I'm a bookseller but I still judge books (and people) by their covers. With this book, the cover was attractive and the story the author had to tell of sexual slavery from an early age to winning Glamour magazine's Woman of the Year award (2006) was uplifting and compelling and I really thought it was something special to recommend.

Now today, I read that the book was indeed a story. Fiction. How much of it was true and how muc...more
Violet Crush
This was one of the most difficult books I have ever read. We all know that prostitution and human trafficking is million dollar business that seems to continue to grow over the years. But most of us probably don’t know the extent of this problem and how it affects lives of young girls. All over the world and especially in underdeveloped/ developing countries, this is a problem that is quickly getting out of hands.

The Road of Lost Innocence is a story from Cambodia. Ms. Somaly had a very horrifi...more
Book'd
Apr 09, 2013 Book'd rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Every individual who has the ability to read
This aching life story by Somaly Mam (I will respectfully prefer to address this woman as Mam now on) starts with this note:

By far the lowest statistic for the number of prostitutes and sex slaves in Cambodia is between 40,000 and 50,000. It can be expected that at least 1 in 40 girls born in Cambodia will be sold into sex slavery.

–2005 report by Future Group,
a Canadian nongovernmental organization


I am speechless after finishing this book, neither able to handle the emotions nor able to get up f...more
Pamela
As stated in this book by the Cambodian ex-sex slave, Somaly Mam, "the prostitution business is worth $500 million a year, almost as much as the annual budget of the government." Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, Thailand, etc., are countries where the sex trade is booming (and has been for decades). Young girls, sometimes as young as 5, are sold by their parents, grandparents, or caregivers to brothels and then are used as a type of credit. They work in horrible conditions, worse than one can ever imagi...more
Chris
I picked this book up after seeing Somaly Mam in the PBS film based on Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide. I wanted to know how she was able to grow from former trafficking victim to a head of a foundation, and this book does answer that question.

I honestly do not know if I could keep the faith in humanity that Mam apparently has. I agree with Ali. Mam should win the Nobel Peace Prize.


Update Mam should not win the Peace Prize because apparently much of this boo...more
Shambhawi P.
This book is honest, brutally, painfully honest and that is really why it can make a difference. With every page I felt Somaly Mam's struggle with the prostitution that was a big part of her past and how the very same past has propelled her forward. I feel lucky, extremely lucky, because I know had I lived the life she has I would have been completely broken and not able to stand up for righteousness like she has. She is a true hero.

In many ways the story of the little Cambodian girls sold by t...more
Ryna
Ayaan Hirsi Ali said it right, this memoir is unputdownable! I read a couple pages, got interrupted, but when I picked it up again I could not stop reading. Somaly Mam's beautifully raw prose transfixed me. It held me even when my heart raged with anger as I read about the inhumanities she suffered, or even as I felt goose bumps as I imagined the torture girls like herself went through. At some point, keeping the tears back just seemed pointless.

Despite the horrors described in her book, this i...more
Lataun
Nov 18, 2008 Lataun rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Not the faint of heart...
Recommended to Lataun by: People Magazine
I wasn't sure how to put into words what I thought of this book, so I stole some other reviews that best described what I was thinking...

Also not sure what to rate it. I guess I'll go with 5 stars, not because I loved it or anything but the 5 stars equates to "it was amazing". And the author is amazing! I'm also going to donate money to her cause. Pen told me I need to read some happy books :)

"Not an uplifting story and lots of very depressing realizations about the reality of the sex slave trad...more
Book'd
Aug 12, 2013 Book'd rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
Recommended to Book'd by: Book'd
Saying that I had nightmares for weeks after reading this book would be a bleak understatement! It is not hard to imagine things happening to you, when you learn what women your age, and many mostly younger than you are enduring in one part of the world or most parts of the world, for that matter.

For once, I hated my friend here to have me read this book. At one point, I broke down and that was more often. I read it in one sitting only to see how much torture and agony life can bestow on one bei...more
Charu
I was recommended this book by a friend (Hitesh). I did not know what to expect out of this book, when I first heard of it. The issue of prostitution in a country like India prevails since an era when kings had t heir reign, but prostitution existed out of the royal hedonist desires. I assume it was different then. It wasn’t enforced or violent.

Talking about this book, it is a memoir of a brave Cambodian lady, Somaly Mam, who was forced into Sex slavery, while she was a young girl. For a long t...more
Shh I'm reading!
Somaly was sold into sexual slavery when she was 12 years old. Although this is her memoir, she stresses this is not just her story. This is the story of many young girls, some of whom Somaly highlights in her recounting of her personal life and the development of the Acting for Women in Distressing Situations.

Somaly Mam's story is a fantastic one for 2 reasons. One is that it highlights the depravity of human trafficking and how little we value those don't have the resources to protect themselv...more
Maya Khan
I usually avoid memoirs for thisexact reason.. I get lost in it and go to a deep dark place and fail to see any possible good this world may have. This is one such book which portrays all the evil the world has to offer. However I tell myself that I'd be I denial if I don't face the facts and acknowledge that the balance is tipping toward evil as time goes by.

I felt ashamed mostly while reading about Somaly's problems. I whine about the lack of the quality of life in here but there millions of...more
Tahleen
What a tough book to read. I cried a lot while I read this; it is heartbreaking to read about the atrocities that are happening right now in human trafficking. Somaly Mam's memoir recounts her past as a girl sold into prostitution and how she managed to slowly climb out of the pit she was unceremoniously dropped into. Though the story she tells is one of violence and inhumanity, it is also one of hope; she managed to do truly wonderful and amazing things for young girls (as young as 4) who were/...more
Liz
wow.

the suffering that is enduring by so many in their short lives is astonishing. as is the capacity in human beings for violence and cruelty, as well as the capacity to struggle for what is good and right.

there is so much that needs to be done about human trafficking, sex trade, slavery, rape, prostitution.

so much.

what is so compelling about this book is that it is a first hand account of someone who suffered her entire life, found a way out, and then committed herself to save others with her...more
Sara Alruwaitea
Oct 19, 2013 Sara Alruwaitea rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Razan Al-Araj
This is a story about a real Hero from a 3rd world country.
Somaly Mam is a living example of how we all should never hold back into the past in order to go through the present.

Her biography told how life is tough in Cambodia. How she got through since she was born in the 70's until today. She was forced to live the life of a slave and a prostitute but she was lucky and strong enough to save herself, that is when she tried and fought as hard as she could to heal her soul and find her inner peace....more
Julia Graf
Absolutely brutal, sobering, but also hopeful look into the Cambodian child sex slave industry. Any man who is thinking of traveling to South East Asia to enjoy cheap prostitution should be forced to read this. Unfortunately they are probably the last ones to do so. Moreover it describes how prevalent it is for local Asian man to seek out young girl prostitutes, and how terribly these are abused, sold over and over again to cruel pimps and madams. It was sickening to read sometimes, but amazing...more
e.c.h.a
Jul 29, 2009 e.c.h.a rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to e.c.h.a by: Mbak Olin
Membaca ini membuat gw membuka mata..bahwa masalah trafficking benar-benar pelik. Gw sering mendengar soal trafficking yang menjadikan anak-anak terutama gadis di bawah umur sebagai "barang" yang dilemparkan ke rumah bordil dan dipaksa untuk melakukan prostitusi. Dan, orang-orang terdekatlah yang menjual mereka. Saat di rumah bordil pun, mereka tidak punya arti. Mengalami segala macam sex abuse, bahkan penyiksaan secara mental.

Pengarang buku ini Somaly Mam, adalah salah satu korban dari traffic...more
Dafina
I read this book for my senior exit project. My topic was about forced prostitution. This topic really stood out to me because we are all about equality for all, yet women and young girls are being forced into having sex with strangers for money that they never receive.
Somaly Mam wrote this book about her life and everything she went through. I think she's such a strong women due to all she's been through and being able to write about it and raise awareness. She was sold into prostitution by he...more
Arlene
Sold into slavery as a young girl—first as an indentured servant to a surly, violent older man, then, at 16, to a brothel—Mam could have lived a life of misery and defeat. Instead, she found freedom and security while keeping her remarkable spirit intact. This unflinching, searing memoir tells Mam’s story, from her early childhood as an orphan in the mountains of Cambodia to her current role as cofounder and president of the AFESIP (Acting for Women in Distressing Circumstances) and the Somaly M...more
Evan
It's pretty damned hard to read this and not cry. The book is about the trafficking of young girls in the Southeast Asian sex trade, most specifically in Cambodia, and it is told from the perspective of someone who was a young victim of that trade, Somaly Mam, a true heroine who has started homes throughout the region to help girls rescued from sex slavery to reclaim their lives. The book describes harrowing, Hell-on-Earth stuff that is going on on a massive scale, right now. It's one of those b...more
Uci
Tercekat. Satu kata yang pas untuk menggambarkan perasaan saya saat membaca buku ini. Kisah perdagangan manusia memang sudah sering kita dengar, namun saat dituturkan langsung oleh si korban, sering kali kita akan menggeleng tak percaya, menyimak kekejaman tak terperi yang harus dia tanggung. Saya sampai harus meletakkan buku ini beberapa kali untuk menghela napas.

Somaly Mam (nama yang dia pilih, pemberian bapak angkat baik hati, karena dia tak pernah tahu nama aslinya), hidup sendiri di antara...more
Daniel
Describes the author's experience being sold into prostitution in Cambodia, and how she ultimately escaped and formed an organization to rescue others in the same plight.

The book is very readable and is written in a spare, matter-of-fact prose. My only hesitation in recommending it is that it is so tragic, disturbing, and graphic. However, the book is not a "downer" -- the author has been able to find some purpose and meaning in her life by helping others.
Celine
I'll fully admit that this topic is very dear to my heart and thus, I began this book with extremely high expectations about how moved I was going to be by the end of it. Probably unfair. Although the stories were horrific and the things done to girls deplorable, I was not as moved as I expected to be. The writing was much more factual than I expected.

I'll also fully admit that my reading of this book was greatly tainted by claims of Somaly Mam's misleading embellishment of her own trafficking...more
Raiona
Apr 10, 2014 Raiona rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to Raiona by: my friend
The Road of Lost Innocence by Somaly Mam is a book about the adversities a little girl faces until adulthood and how she overcame them. The memoir about Somaly Mam goes into detail about her life and other's around her who were sold into sex slavery. The author, Somaly Mam, suffered horrific acts of brutality. Her past haunted her after she was free, therefore, she decided to help other women and children escape from sex slavery. Somaly Mam became an activist in the fight against human trafficki...more
Philipc
The Road of Lost Innocence is "a riveting and beautiful memoir of tragedy and hope," says the publisher's blurb.

Except all the evidence suggests it's not a memoir.

"Road" was published as the life-story of Cambodian anti-trafficking campaigner Somaly Mam. Kirkus review gives this summary of the story it tells:

"Born in 1970 or 1971 and torn from her ethnic Phnong family [the Phnong are a minority people on the Cambodian/Vietnamese border] during Cambodia’s genocidal civil war, Mam suffered as a ch...more
Tara Garcia
her story is devastatingly powerful. my stomach tightened so many times as well as my heart. cannot imagine what more she could have done...if anything or anyone was on her side...
Amy
In "The Road to Lost Innocence," Somaly Mam takes us on her journey from orphan to sex slave to liberator and humanitarian..
At a time in my life, the 80s, when I was complaining about not being allowed to have designer jeans, Somaly Mam was an orphan living in a bamboo hut in the countryside and was sold into sexual slavery by a man who claimed to be her grandfather. She lived in deplorable basement brothels in Phnom Penh's most dangerous neighborhoods and was tortured, starved, and constantly g...more
Nia Vestal
This book is a disturbing and remarkable account of the sex trade industry in Cambodia... however, more the human side of this issue is all too evident. I put down this book several times and picked it up again, only to allow myself to digest the information and to prohibit myself from vomiting. It is sad that we live in a world where human beings treat each other as Mam has indicated in her book. It is ugly, harsh in in no way does she hold back. The sex trade is ugly and savage. Most books on...more
Veens
Oct 16, 2008 Veens rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
Shelves: favorites
The book-cover was beautiful. On the cover page Somaly sat there, thinking, looking towards her future maybe. As the fortune-teller told her -

' the black one - she will have the three flags' - power, honour and money. 'She will travel in plane andshe will be a leader in the family'. She will help you.'


This is the first memoir I have read. I don't know, why I chose it. Maybe I wanted an author from another part of the world for my Orbis Terrarum CHallenge! But I never thought, it will this diffe...more
Esther
The Road of Lost Innocence is moving and disturbing at the same time. This memoir takes place in Cambodia during the Khmer Rouge and follows the story of a young girl who gets sold into prostitution. The protagonist, Somaly Mam, never had real parents but a man in her village took care of her, so she called him grandfather. At this time woman were not respected, so her grandfather would beat her. He also forced her to work so he that he could take the money. Later when she finds a family that tr...more
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918374
Somaly Mam is a Cambodian author and human rights advocate who focuses primarily on sex trafficking.
More about Somaly Mam...
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“I strongly believe that love is the answer and that it can mend even the deepest unseen wounds. Love can heal, love can console, love can strengthen, and yes, love can make change.” 192 likes
“Sometimes you can learn, even from a bad experience. By coping you become stronger. The pain does not go away, but it becomes manageable.” 99 likes
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