From Publishers Weekly
"The sex trade is the new drug trade," writes Sher (Caught in the Web), who draws attention to the 300,000 American minors trafficked and prostituted each year in his thorough, deeply affecting study. Scaffolding his arguments on the narratives of two such children--Maria, a former prostitute "turned out" at the age of 13, and Felicia, who became involved with her pimp at 14--Sher follows how young people, frequently runaways, find themselves in the clutches of predatory adults. He introduces the reader to the networks of rescue organizations that offer succor and the law enforcement agencies that too frequently victimize the children further, prosecuting prostitutes rather than their pimps or johns. He also studies how representations of pimping in pop culture (from Grand Theft Auto IV to rapper Ice-T's film Pimpin') normalize--even glamorize--exploitation. While the horror stories of the young girls "in the life" are vividly recounted, the author depicts them with sensitivity and respect; and his book strikes a rare balance between revealing trauma and hope, and between the stories of abused children and their advocates. (Jan.)
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Sher takes on the story of teen prostitution in the U.S. by primarily focusing on three cities, Las Vegas, Atlantic City, and Dallas. His interview subjects include a small group of teens who explain how they came to prostitution and how they broke out of it. He also talks to police officers investigating vice crimes as well as lawyers, judges, and survivors of the sex trade now working to rescue other victims. Interspersed with these personal stories are discussions of statistics regarding gender, age, and recidivism. The situations are alternately sad or graphically violent, but always tragic. Sher clearly has a great deal of empathy for his interview subjects, and is at his most gripping when writing about their decisions to stand up against former pimps. He also writes in detail about the glamorized pimp image and how it has flooded pop culture (Ice T’s career is particularly ironic). --Colleen Mondor