on December 19, 2011
It's the sign of an incredible book that when it finishes, you have that butterflies-in-your-stomach feeling of closure, redemption and beauty. And that's what happens when you read this book. I read this as an ARC provided by the publishing company, but just bought it on Amazon so I could give it away to friends.
Some readers might say that this is a "hard book to read", and that's true--at first. Coming face-to-face with the gritty realities of the horrendous trade in young girls is difficult. But Addison deftly weaves a tale of beauty and redemption throughout. It reads like a thriller, but has the soul of poetic lyricism.
This might be a small spoiler, but I believe knowing this fact, actually, greatly improves the read -- it ends with goodness. It's not a "pat" ending, and all of the twists and turns of the story contribute to an overall effect of depth and reality. So the "happy" ending -- rather than being cliche or saccharine -- comes off as a picture of redemption. Yes, I know I've used that word a few times, but there's no better descriptor for how this book feels. Redemptive.
Thriller fans will be delighted. Those who want a story with poetic beauty will be moved. The (on-the-ground) research makes you feel like you are walking the streets of Mumbai or Paris -- and the characterization is strong.
I can't more highly recommend this book!
on January 4, 2012
What to say about Corban Addison's first novel, A Walk Across the Sun?
I am not much of a reader of "thrillers," mainly because I find so many of the characters to be one dimensional and the plots way too far-fetched. But Corban Addison combines the mind of a top notch investigator with the soul of a poet. This is one well-written beautifully nuanced book. He uses the power of a fictional world to paint a compelling picture of a monstrous problem that is all but hidden from the view of most Americans. We would frankly rather not think about the exploitation of young girls and would love to be able to relegate it to some remote corner of the third world.
But Addison starts right here in our own country with the abduction of a young girl in broad daylight, an abduction that his main character, Thomas Clarke, is powerless to stop. From there Clarke is drawn into a world of intrigue and danger, into the plight of two sisters kidnapped after losing both parents to a violent tsunami. Compelled to help, Clarke is drawn into the sexual cesspools of Bombay and Paris, and finally, full circle to our own back yard as he strives to rescue the younger sister from the brutal soulless world of sex slavers, dope pushers and pimps. He leaves no stone unturned and by the end of the book I found myself wrung out, the pages of the book tearstained and a rage rising within me that I hope never goes out.
Addison never preaches. Nor does he sensationalize with too much detail of the sexual abuses endured by his characters, although he certainly could have. He just tells one hell of a good story that left this reader wanting to know more about how to help. It's quite simply a wonderful first novel.
Buy, it, read it, pass it on to your friends, talk about it in book clubs. More importantly, read through his afterword for more information on human trafficking. Find a group committed to changing the world and join them. (so, okay Addison doesn't preach--but that doesn't stop this reviewer!)
on December 31, 2011
When I think of this book, all the reviewer's cliches apply: fast-paced, suspenseful, page-turning, heart-thumping, stayed-up-late-reading, etc. I'm not typically a fan of thrillers--too often they sacrifice character study for the sake of moving the plot along. But I admire the effort Addison took to give readers a realistic tableaux whether we were reading about the doomed family in Chennai, the hidden neighborhood of Indian restaurants in Paris, or the truck stops in Harrisburg, PA. We care...moreWhen I think of this book, all the reviewer's cliches apply: fast-paced, suspenseful, page-turning, heart-thumping, stayed-up-late-reading, etc. I'm not typically a fan of thrillers--too often they sacrifice character study for the sake of moving the plot along. But I admire the effort Addison took to give readers a realistic tableaux whether we were reading about the doomed family in Chennai, the hidden neighborhood of Indian restaurants in Paris, or the truck stops in Harrisburg, PA. We care about the two orphan girls, Ahalya and Sita Ghai, right from the start because of the details he gives us about their lives before disaster strikes (in fact, I wouldn't have minded a little more of that). Addison reveals to the reader the grim realities of an underworld that we associate with movies but that is actually happening--and not just in places like India and the Philippines. Human trafficking--particularly of young girls--is modern slavery, and Addison does here what artists do best: he gives a human face to the victims that are otherwise invisible in our society.
on January 8, 2012
Those of us not familiar with the sex trade, me being one of those, usually think of it as happening "someplace else". The reality is that it happens all over the world, including right here in the United States. Children are sold for drugs, prostitution, kidnapped right off of the street. Before you go any further in this review you need to know that this is not a feel good topic. It is repulsive and hard to read.
We start off the story with two innocent girls whose life is decimated due to a tsunami. They try to get to their school where the sisters will take care of them. Things go wrong and they find themselves where no young person should ever be, in the sex trade. Thomas Clarke is a lawyer who has lost so much already. He witnesses a kidnapping of a young girl in a park and this sets him on his mission to work against these traffickers.
This story moves along smoothly carrying the reader from one heartbreak to another. It is a very emotional book to read. It lets you see inside the head and heart of these people who sell children for sex. I think it was best said when one of the characters said to the young girl he had with him, "You are not here because I enjoy the sale of sex. You are here because men enjoy the purchase of it." (page 329)
I thought about that remark. If we could get rid of all of the people who were willing to pay for this service then we would not have the sex trade.
As the author took us across India we get a look at the different caste systems and the way they treat people. Both of these girls were middle class students who knew English. This made them more valuable than many others. The author doesn't leave the reader in a depressive state. He definitely wanted to give the reader hope that this situation can change in the future. This is a must read book. If nothing else you as a parent should read it to see what you need to protect your children from.
Corban Addison is able to give a voice to the victims of human trafficking. Without that voice people like me know nothing of it. We live in our safe little world. After reading this book my world doesn't feel so safe anymore and it isn't as small as it once was.
on December 29, 2011
Buy it. Read it. Now.
Oh, you want more? Well, alright. A Walk Across the Sun is an exciting, suspenseful journey across the globe, deep into the illegal sex trade.
"But I don't care, or don't want to know about the sex trade. It's depressing, scary and might make me feel bad about myself. Besides, it has nothing to do with me, all that stuff happens somewhere else, on the other side of the planet. It doesn't affect me."
Yeah, I know, those were some of the excuses I used to avoid this book for the three weeks I had it before I cracked the cover.
I was scared, this is Corban Addison's first book and I was scared that he'd take it too far, I was scared that I would come away feeling brutalized by the stark and ugly reality of the international sex trade. I was scared that Corban Addison was going to rape me. Literarily speaking.
So, here's what you need to know. A Walk Across the Sun is a book about hope. It's a book about solutions, even if they seem small, too small to matter. It's a book about grace, and redemption. It's a book that takes you into the ugly world of sexual slavery and shines just enough light for you to glimpse its darkest shadows without having toothpicks stuck in your eyes while you're forced to watch under a spotlight.
It's a book about two sisters, lost in the international sex trade. And about a man who finds himself as he searches relentlessly for them and fights to pull them out and give them a better life.
It's a book about shadows and darkness, told through a prism of light. It's a book about wisdom and kindness even in the midst of Hell.
It's a book that finally and completely explained how these abuses can occur in so many places around the world in two simple sentences - "In Golpitha, love was sex, and sex was rape. It came to her that his affections knew no other outlet."
We tend to think of the sex trade as a female problem, we spend our resources rescuing and rehabilitating the girls and women sold, and sometimes born, into it. But in this simple line Corban reminds us that it's not the women we have to change.
Yes, we need to help them, but to really put an end to sexual slavery, we need to reach the men. The men who don't know better, who don't see what they are doing as wrong, who think that it's okay to purchase a woman, rent a woman, sell a woman. The men who think that love is sex, but who don't know that that kind of sex is rape.
If you think that task is daunting, let me share another line from this fabulous book - "Cynicism is the curse of the West. In India, we still have faith." Perhaps it's time to have a little faith, enough to start the journey, one small step at a time.
A Walk Across the Sun is blessedly nuanced and shadowed. Corban Addison will not rape you. But he will pull you under, suck you in and refuse to release you until the final page of this thrilling novel.
Buy it. Read it. Now. I'm not kidding.
on January 8, 2012
A family member served as President of her college chapter of IJM (International Justice Mission). She made me aware of the organization that worked to abolish slavery and trafficking. I was shocked to find this was still happening in my day and time.
Then I heard about A Walk Across The Sun, by Corban Addison. When I asked her about it, she assured me it was happening right here in the US as well as in other countries. I purchased seven copies of this book (unread!) for my family as Christmas Gifts.
On Christmas Day, my husband read the book to completion (3:30 a.m. 12/26). He said it was the first time he had completed a book in one reading in over 40 years, which only compelled me to start it! I found myself savoring every chapter. I didn't want it to end.
From the beginning of the story about a tormented young attorney: witnessing a kidnapping in a public park, taking him through journeys from his law office through the brothels of India, New York, Paris, New Jersey, and PA, I was riveted. The character development brought these individuals to life. A story of hope, family unity (in different continents and cultures), and answered prayer (even for those who don't typically pray), A Walk Across The Sun caused me to think about what I, as one individual, can do to help break a sickening chain of events that has become a prevalent part of our society today.
I thought of my grandchildren, playing innocently in a park, of my own business goals (are they worthy endeavors?), of my children and what we have instilled in them via principle and truth. How would they react to a situation such as the ones told in this story? Would they sacrifice the almighty dollar to save a life, reunite sisters or rekindle a marriage? I can only hope. But I can promise that reading A Walk Across The Sun will awaken your confidence in humanity and make you aware of a cause worth your thought. America, Awake! Not only has Corban Addison provided you with a riveting book; he has made you aware of an event in your day and time in which you can make a difference.
On Friday evening, 1/6/12, my husband and I attended a Lincoln Dinner at the General Denver Hotel in Wilmington, OH. It was a lovely event and it was finished with an exhibition at Wilmington College, telling the story of Lincoln's abolition of slavery. As I walked through the exhibition, reading the story of Lincoln's turmoil about this human condition, I thought again about this book. Human Slavery is `alive and well' in our day and time. A Walk Across The Sun will make you aware of this. Do not miss this read. It is well written; a thrilling novel that you can't put down and one that leaves you with the responsibility of what you can do to help. Can't say enough about this book!
on August 1, 2012
I wanted to like this book, but, alas...
A worthy subject, no doubt, but that doesn't mean the author knows how to write a worthy book. At times he shows promise, but not often enough. On the whole, the prose is flat, the characters cliched. Also, though it seems strange to say so, given the topic, the tone often feels too "tame." Anyhow, it's like the author maybe has the potential, but he's still (at least) a few years of hard work away from becoming a good writer.
I guess the real problem here is that the agenda is stronger than the writing. As such, the writing lacks edge. A recent counter-example I can think of where an author successfully combines good writing with worthy subject matter is Crossers, by Philip Caputo. Thinking more about it, besides being better written in all kinds of ways, Crossers is much more textured, and morally ambiguous. Caputo wrote a novel. Addison wrote a glorified p.r. brochure for an admittedly very worthy cause.
on November 29, 2013
Bloodless. Not in the sanguinary sense, but in the fact that this book elicited not a single emotion.
The topic was excellent, more books need to be written on this subject. And the writing itself, technically speaking, was fine. The author knows how to string sentences into paragraphs, and paragraphs into chapters, etc, quite decently. But reading this book was the strangest experience. Addison was describing horrific things, things that should have engendered very strong emotions, but somehow those scenes did absolutely nothing to make the reader feel a thing. I can't quite explain why, from a writing standpoint, but that was the clear effect (or lack thereof).
As for the plot, it, too, was technically decent. All of the necessary scenes were present, in an acceptable order. But as the book proceeded, it did so in a way that suggested a plot outlined on a whiteboard in someone's office. (That image actually came to mind.) Plot point followed plot point followed plot point, but never once did the story seem to coalesce into more than the sum of its parts. Never once was it possible to submerge the self into the story and forget about the technical aspects of the writing. Very disappointing, and a wasted opportunity for such a crucial topic.
on March 17, 2012
Even thought I am aware there is international sex trafficking, it seems remote and impersonal. This novel changes that. Through the experiences of two young women from India, the reader is led through a series of international horrors. Without repeating the plot, the author sheds light on the dark side of both men and women, rich and poor, educated and illiterate. The story begins in India, travels to France, and then the United States. It is amazing how complicated and coordinated the efforts of the sex traffickers are and the levels of collusion and complicity required of authorities in some countries. The story is gripping.
This is a novel driven by plot. Although the characters of the two Indian girls are believable as are some of the adults who use them, they too often do just seem to be "characters." This, I felt, was especially true of some of the co-workers of Thomas Clarke, the Washington D.C. attorney who undertakes the task of finding the younger sister. His marriage to an Indian woman, his affair with the co-worker, and his relationship with yet again another beautiful co-worker in France do seem a bit contrived at times. However, this is a minor flaw.
In short, I feel the author desperately wanted to shed light on this almost unspeakable horror which is happening to far too many young women across the world. He succeeded in that. The story is definitely worth reading and will be remembered.
on July 23, 2012
This may become one of the major literary achievements of the early years of the 21st Century. I don't say this lightly. This novel encapsulates a well-researched political and economic travesty of worldwide proportions within a finely-written work of fiction. The reader's heart will break numerous times throughout the course of the trek made by innocent girls who become pawns in the human traffic business and the sex-trade arena. One marvels at the courage displayed by these girls and young women as they confront the lowest depths of infamy. This reviewer highly recommends this work of fiction to book clubs and reading circles everywhere. It is a difficult and sadly emotional journey but it is a story which needs to be read and discussed. I join the writer in urging a call to action in the support of organizations attempting to fight this terrible problem. I recommend that literary award nomination committees consider this novel for top prizes for authors. The readers of this novel should be prepared that going into this world is a sensitive, paradigm changing experience which will be well worth the time and tears spent reading these pages. Lastly, it is also a work of hope which gives all of us insight and encouragement.