Ahalya Ghai and her younger sister Sita are as close as sisters can be. But when a tsunami rips through their village on India's Coromandel coast, their home is swept away, and the sisters are the sole survivors of their family. Destitute, their only hope is to find refuge at a convent many miles away. A driver agrees to take them. But the moment they get into that car their fate is sealed. The two sisters - confused, alone, totally reliant on each other - are sold. On the other side of the world, Washington lawyer Thomas ...
Ahalya Ghai and her younger sister Sita are as close as sisters can be. But when a tsunami rips through their village on India's Coromandel coast, their home is swept away, and the sisters are the sole survivors of their family. Destitute, their only hope is to find refuge at a convent many miles away. A driver agrees to take them. But the moment they get into that car their fate is sealed. The two sisters - confused, alone, totally reliant on each other - are sold. On the other side of the world, Washington lawyer Thomas Clarke is struggling to cope after the death of his baby daughter and the collapse of his marriage. He takes a sabbatical from his high-pressure job and accepts a position with the Bombay branch of an international anti-trafficking group. Thomas is now on a desperate path to try and save not only himself and his marriage, but also the lives of the two sisters.
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I started reading A Walk Across the Sun a couple of days ago and it didn't take long before I was sucked in and couldn't put down the book. So much so that last night, I stayed up until 4 am until I'd finished it.
Many years ago, I watched a documentary on the child slave trade and was horrified that slavery not only exists still today but is thriving and growing. At the time I became a supporter of a few different organizations that work to rescue and rehabilitate children who have been victims of the sex industry. Today, I focus mainly on a particular organization called Love146, who's lofty mission statement--"The abolition of child trafficking and exploitation. Nothing less"--just about brings me to tears every time I read it on their website. Is it an attainable goal? Who knows, but that they feel they cannot settle for anything less makes this an organization absolutely worth supporting.
When I picked up this book at my local Barnes and Noble and read the summary on the back, I knew I had to read it. Though it is a fictional work, the author Corban Addison did extensive research into the slave trade, traveled to different parts of the world to meet with those who combat human trafficking as well as those who have, sadly, experienced it firsthand. Having read many non-fictional works on human trafficking and the sex slave trade, I was extremely impressed with Addison's knowledge.
A Walk Across the Sun is essentially split into two separate stories, but as the book progresses these stories meld together. Thomas is an American who works tirelessly at a law firm and whose wife, despondent at the death of their infant daughter, has left him and moved back to India, the place of her birth. After being made the scapegoat at a situation with his law firm, Thomas is told to take a year-long sabbatical. Having just witnessed the kidnapping of a young girl, who, it is believed, has been trafficked, he decides to go to Bombay--which is also the city where his wife is now living--and work as an intern for an NGO that helps rescue victims of human trafficking. Meanwhile, Addison also introduces us to Ahalya and Sita, sisters who have been made orphans after the devastating Tsunami. When a driver hired to take them back to the convent where they are students instead sells them to a brothel, their lives are forever altered. Eventually, Thomas learns of the situation with Ahalya and Sita and begins an extraordinary quest to reunite the sisters, who have been separated after a raid on their brothel.
This book does an excellent job of putting a human face to the too-often invisible victims of modern-day slavery, accurately describing the horrors they endure (although he does so without being overly graphic and sensationalizing the issue) while still giving the reader a sense of hope and the strength of the human spirit. I highly, highly recommend this book, even to those who normally would not venture outside of a particular genre. This book has a bit of everything: it's suspenseful, fast-paced, has an element of romance (the story between Thomas and his wife), and hopefully--it will leave you ready to take action and get involved. A must-read, and an excellent book-club discussion book!
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