Even when you don't have kids, it's hard to read a story about child trafficking. Perhaps especially if you are a girl. Little Peach by Peg
Even when you don't have kids, it's hard to read a story about child trafficking. Perhaps especially if you are a girl. Little Peach by Peggy Kern is short at 200 pages, and yet it sends an incredibly powerful message of loss and the search for love. I can't say that I particularly enjoyed reading it... in fact, I spent most of the book very uncomfortable with the subject matter. But that was the point of the story: to make the reader uncomfortable and bring to light a real problem that faces many young girls in this country. Little Peach is narrated by Michelle, as the story unfolds to a case worker in the hospital. The point of view is unique: first person, present tense, and speaking directly to someone. It's told in Befores and Nows, not quite in alternating chapters, but close enough. More time is spent in the past, as Michelle's story unfolds.
And it is tragic. Michelle is so smart; smart enough to know her circumstances at home are wrong, and wrong enough to send herself away to NYC with nothing but $50 and a pillow and blanket. Little Peach illustrates the internal struggles of young girls like Michelle, who have no one, no self-confidence and are ripe for pimps to pluck them from train terminals because - "Unlike a bag of heroin, a girl can be sold again and again."
"You see me, Mama? I'm not your kid anymore."
Her regression from fear of being employed as a prostitute to her fear of leaving (classic Stockholm Syndrome) her pimp was fast and smooth. Devon knew exactly what words to say to tear her down and build her into the child sex slave her wanted her to be. His small lessons were imparted through his kind words and his callous actions. How can anyone in her situation have resisted such a sneaky, slimy way into the psyche with promises of a brighter future while she lives in the dark places of the world? My heart broke for her.
"We got real patients to take care of, you know. People who really need help."
Then my heart broke for other victims like her. People stare at child sex slaves on the street, judgement in their eyes. The nurse who helps the poor girl whose pimp got her addicted to meth, coke, or any other drug, doesn't want to help her because people see them as lost causes. Maybe the onlookers are the lost cause. Not doing anything is the worst of all.
“We don’t talk for the rest of the night, but I know we’re both thinking about her. Cristina Wakeman. The girl someone is looking for.”
Michelle’s internal struggles were a small light in a dark room. Despite her building loyalty to her “daddy” and the world she had been sucked into, she still knew it was wrong and wrestled with herself to do the right things. Her loss of innocence made me feel wretched.
Kern’s writing is fluid and organic to her characters. She shows how easily someone can succumb to their surroundings, especially via language. Her message was loud and brutal, and her emotions come right off the pages.
Little Peach gutted me. It is a must read for girls and women everywhere....more
DNF at about 60%. Just not holding my interest. The main character is very sorry for herself all the time, makes stupid decisions and in general is anDNF at about 60%. Just not holding my interest. The main character is very sorry for herself all the time, makes stupid decisions and in general is annoying. Perhaps I'll pick it back up some other time, but probably not. ...more
~~~~~ Down from the Mountain gets 3.5 stars for a multitude of reasons. It's very compelling, and seeing the inside of a religious cult with first person POV is riveting. Here is a bulleted list of the things I liked, as well as some of the things I didn't. Liked
It's compelling. As someone who doesn't have a religion, but believes in God, I find the idea of followers being sucked into a religious cult fascinating. My questions circle around the whys and the hows, and this book highlights a lot of those reasons.
Her discovery of the outside world, as she does work for Righteous Path (the cult), is delightful and I found her confusion about what she had been taught versus what she was experiencing, sad and happy.
Eva's bravery as she challenges her own way of thinking and everything she has ever been taught.
Trevor. Goodness, I loved everything about him. Caring and kind and every other sweet adjective you can think of, he truly cared what happened to the members of the cult.
Fixmer made Ezekial an obvious villain. Normally, I hate that, but it really works in Down from the Mountain, because, hey, cults are bad, amirite?
The descriptions of complacence and obedience are well done.
The writing is somewhat simple. Perhaps this is a side-effect of writing from the POV of a girl who has had little formal education. If that's the case, then I understand it.
It was relatively predictable; I kind of saw where it was heading about 35% of the way through the story. I knew who would defect first, I sort of had figured out who would die. Really, the only thing that took me by surprise was the lack of relationship development with Jacob.
I found the reasons that Mother Martha joined the Righteous Path to be forced and not at all believable. While I can get behind Martha giving her money and earthly possessions over to the Reverend Ezekial, I just don't think her reasoning was convincing.
There are small discrepancies within the story, such as:
Annie, the 11-year-old follower, sounded too old for her age. Now, I realize that this does happen to some people, especially those who have experienced traumatic events, but if Fixmer didn't give her age away in the book, I'd have guessed she was in her early twenties. That's a broad difference from 11. How did Eva get a library card without a photo ID?
Where the hell was the media when she was found? Her disappearance was in the papers, but where were they when she was found? I've seen far too many stories like this one to believe that it didn't happen, and it disappointed me that we don't get to experience the fallout of the ending.
There is no intensity in the ending. I felt no emotion behind the words on the pages. It was kinda like, "Okay, so I did this, and this, and this, and they came and this happened and now I'm here." It happens incredibly fast, especially considering how long Eva had been with the cult.
Verdict Despite its flaws, Down from the Mountain really is a great book to read, especially if you have an interest in the heavy subject matter. The story is quite disheartening, because it happens in the real world, but Fixmer rewards you for your internal suffering in the end.
*Thank you to Albert Whitman & Company for my review copy....more