Sunday, May 29, 2016

Review: Fifteen Lanes by S. J. Laidlaw

Synopsis: Noor has lived all of her fourteen years in the fifteen lanes of Mumbai’s red light district. Born into a brothel, she is destined for the same fate as her mother: a desperate life trapped in the city’s sex trade. She must act soon to have any chance of escaping this grim future.
Across the sprawling city, fifteen-year-old Grace enjoys a life of privilege. Her father, the CEO of one of India’s largest international banks, has brought his family to Mumbai where they live in unparalleled luxury. But Grace’s seemingly perfect life is shattered when she becomes a victim of a cruel online attack. When their paths intersect, Noor and Grace will be changed forever. Can two girls living in vastly different worlds find a common path? Award-winning author S.J. Laidlaw masterfully weaves together their stories in a way that resonates across class and culture. Fifteen Lanes boldly explores the ties that bind us to places and people, and shows us that the strongest of bonds can be forged when hope is all but lost. (from the inside cover of the book)

Review: This book is hard to write about as I don't feel I have adequate words. The ones that come to mind are these: brutal, heartbreaking, beautiful, hopeful.
Given Laidlaw's work with the victims of the sex industry in India, it is not surprising this book has a realism to it that stabs one to the heart. Not everyone lives. Not everyone gets to a better life. But some do and that's enough. The characters feel real, complex, with cross motivations and emotions and mixed loyalties. The mistakes they make hit close to home. Noor’s vulnerability and Grace’s loneliness are tangible. I ached for these girls and the choices they made. I hated the ones who hurt them, the ones who deceived them, and the ones who used them.
I would highly recommend this book for reading with high school age kids. It opens the doors for discussions about the many forms and places ones finds sexual exploitation – places and forms kids might not expect. It also opens discussion about sex trafficking and the condition of women in the third world.
Worth reading. Worth every heartbreaking second to read.

Bookmarks: 9 of 10

Awards: None

ISBN: 978-1-101-91780-0
Year Published: 2016
Date Finished: 5-13-2016
Pages: 300

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