I’ve been waiting to re-use the title I christened with James Baldwin all those months ago for something really special. If you read my last post I Bought a Book you’ll know exactly which book that is. Here’s a cheat sheet for those who need a refresher:
Long story short, A Walk Across the Sun by Corban Addison was the first book I picked up at B&N several days ago, and I read the first few chapters and then bought it. Since then, I haven’t been able to put all 457 pages down. The book is about Sita and Ahalya Ghai, two teenagers orphaned in the tsunami that ravaged their home in India. They are abducted and by human traffickers and some really awful things happen. Simultaneously the book follows D.C. attorney Thomas Clarke as he travels from Georgetown to Bombay, where he hooks up with an organization fighting the trafficking.
This is not an easy read. And by that, I don’t mean the prose. As you can imagine, human trafficking of any kind is a very ugly, and is a very real problem. Half the time I was reading, I was caught between outrage and incredulity that these types of crimes are occurring today. But they are. All of the time. In the Afterward, Addison says:
In writing the book, I drew heavily upon real-life accounts in the trafficking literature… Where I have exercises literary license in service of the story, I have done so sensitively, with an eye toward authenticity. There is no need to sensationalize modern slavery. It is horrifying enough as it is (459).
If I had known this before starting the book, perhaps it would have been more horrifying, but I’m not sure that would be possible. Okay, okay, so you’re asking why would I read something so awful?
Because Addison has a way of winding beauty and ugliness so intimately together that you cannot look away. I devoured each word– each page as I searched for resolution. I cried — yes, cried– several times because I couldn’t contain my emotion. I may be loosey-goosey with tears during television and movies, but it is a very rare day that literature, sans overwrought musical crescendos to aide my tear ducts, makes me cry.
The story was so powerful, the characters so terrifyingly real, that I had to read through the Afterward to find out how I could learn more about the problem… how I could help.
I’m not saying everyone should read this and instantaneously join a non-profit. I’m suggesting you get lost in Addison’s story-telling and then tell someone else. Maybe then people will learn what’s really happening in America, India, Europe, Russia… everywhere.