I read this book in one sitting. It's non-fiction, but reads like a thriller with two versions of every story: one by the girls and one by their mothers. The young girls stories are emotionless and in clear graphic detail. While the mothers account of the same story shows how little they actually know about what's really going on it's shocking. I found that to be a very clever way to demonstrate how in the dark parents can be - it could be any parent talking about a kid that parties a little too much but the signs are there. These girls experience unspeakable situtions and the whole time you want to save them, to stop them from making it worse or more dangerous. You're hoping 14 year old Jessica, who is stranded in the rain on the highway at 4 in the morning, doesn't get into the car that pulls over. You want to save 12 year old Sara from what happens to her on the school bus.You are heartbroken when a 15 year old has sex for $60 because she wants to go shopping and then does it again and again night after night. The tipping point from partying into prostitution almost seems inevitable in their stories, and it really makes you wonder how we got here. This book is brave and disturbing because it paints a clear picture of what can happen to a girl growing up in a society that encourages girls to identify themselves through their sexuality at such an early age. Even Dora the Explorer is starting to wear mini shirts! What messages are we sending our kids. This book really makes you think about that.
Have you any idea how important trendy labels, carrying around money etc. is to young (and I mean young) women? Combine that with the sexploitation clubbing them in the head via women's magazines, popular tv shows etc., and you have a recipe for...well...this. I see this as abject failure of the mainstream women's movement to set any sort of acceptable boundaries. Great, albeit gut-wrenching read.
This is an excellent piece of research journalism that is worth being read by parents, educators, and others that work with kids. There is a real range of stories starting with the tween who is used by the high school jocks to middle class girls who trade sex for drugs. This is a wake up call to those of us with daughters, one that we can ignore at our own risk.
As a university professor who teaches psychology, social work, and women's studies, I am going to use this book in my classes to encourage discussion and to raise consciousness among our students. Though parents need to know this is the stark reality for countless young women of all cultures, it is happening here and now in our world of teens and pre-teens (and beyond). When I told some of my students and all of my adult children about this book, they agreed that it is not only timely but about time someone wrote about this topic with the kind of fearlessness and rigorous research that Ms. Azam demonstrates. It is not culturally exclusive by any means and absolutely should be the topic of conversations with our young women and young men. Or: we can sit in our adult worlds thinking that teens are "just saying no," and don't know about oral sex, or having sex to get stuff. Up to us entirely but I recommend this book without hesitation. Dr. Sharon Taylor