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Hidden Girl: The True Story of a Modern-Day Child Slave Hardcover – January 21, 2014

4.2 out of 5 stars 122 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Gr 7 Up—Shyima Hall was born in Egypt in 1989 and sold into slavery by her parents when she was eight years old. Here she tells her shocking story: one of 11 children in a happy but poverty-stricken family, she was sold as a slave to a wealthy family in Cairo, who smuggled her with them to Orange County, CA. After she was freed from her captors, she was thrust into the foster care system and learned to read and write in English, assimilating into American culture as a teenager. She graduated from high school with dreams of one day becoming either a police officer or immigrations agent; and considers her crowning achievement becoming a naturalized U.S. citizen. Robin Eller gives Hall's narrative no accent; rather, she reads it in a staccato, affected manner. She reserves accents for the dialogue of Hall's parents and captors and does a credible job of expressing the wide range of emotions Hall experiences, showing the self-confidence she gained during her ordeal. Tonal changes on the recording are scattered throughout, emphasizing edits, but they are usually momentary and listeners are quickly brought back into the story. Hall's true story gives a face to the horrors of modern slavery and makes for very compelling listening.—Stephanie Bange, Wright State University, Dayton, OH --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

From Booklist

Hall was eight years old when her impoverished Egyptian parents sold her to a wealthy couple. The life of domestic slavery that followed was one of endless labor and physical and verbal abuse. Her experiences don’t improve when her captors immigrate to the U.S., smuggling her in with them. Almost two years pass before her plight is discovered, and she is freed. But her difficulties don’t end there. As a result of never having been educated, she is illiterate, can’t speak English, and can’t even tell time. Accordingly, school is an ordeal and the foster homes in which she lives are often problematic. The balance of this affecting and enlightening memoir tells the story of how she survived and, ultimately, thrived. Unfortunately, her story is not unique. She points out that there are almost 43,000 slaves in the U.S. at any given time. By giving a face to one hidden girl, Hall has given a face to many. This is an excellent book for both individual reading and classroom use. Also suggest Rosanne Hawke’s Spirit of a Mountain Wolf, reviewed in this issue, for a fictionalized view of child slavery. Grades 9-12. --Michael Cart
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers (January 21, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1442481684
  • ISBN-13: 978-1442481688
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.7 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (122 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #429,735 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By SInohey TOP 1000 REVIEWER on February 18, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
The book was originally intended for the teenage reader market, but the subject matter of slavery and human trafficking transcends all ages. It is written by Shyima Hall, whose story it is, and Lisa Wysocky, a professional writer and successful author.

Chapter One opens with,"Everyone has a defining moment in his or her life. For some it is the day they get married or have a child. For others it comes when they reach a sought-after goal. My life, however, drastically changed course the day my parent's sold me into slavery. I was 8 years old." Thus begins the heartrending account of the narrator; from being an 8 year old girl, living with her family and nine siblings in the slums of Alexandria, the second largest city in Egypt to ending up as a child-slave in Orange County, USA. Shyima was sold by her parents to a wealthy Egyptian family as restitution of a bogus debt of honor to repay an alleged theft by her older sister (Zahra), while working for these people. Shyima's indentured bondage lasted four years; she spent 2 years in Cairo, Egypt and two more in California, after being illegally smuggled into the USA by her "owners". During her captivity she lived under harrowing conditions; working from dawn to late night, fed once a day on the family's leftovers and regularly abused verbally and physically for the least infraction. Her sleeping quarters were a bare walled rat and insect infested garage with no heat. This only begins to describe her tragedy =No spoilers here=.
Shyima was eventually rescued and her abusers punished with prison and deportation. The bulk of the book is about her psychological, emotional and educational rehabilitation with the help of social services and foster care system, culminating in her becoming a US citizen.
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By Tina on February 2, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
Shyima was a slave and this is her story - of survival and of her new reality - the good and the ugly.

This book was compelling to read and very, very hard and raw. I found myself being sad, horrified and disgusted, all the while I also felt myself rooting for her, at first quietly and then out loud and its rare that a book actually has me "talking back to it".

While the actual story is the main storytelling in the book, I found myself looking for subtext - and there were many - for instance how "everything would turn out if only she could get to the other side of this horrific situation", yet, when we read about Shyima's attempts at fitting in to the "regular world" we see that things are not quite as perfect as she thought (hoped) they would be.

I also felt so sad when reading her letters to her captors - what a nightmare situation.

This book is also about hope and about believing that you can turn any situation as a learning one.

I really enjoyed this book but was surprised that it was directed at YA. I would say that this is a must read for YA and adults.
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By Rickl55 on January 26, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is the first book I ever read that brought a tear to my eye. Sometimes for the sadness of the situation and sometimes for sharing Shyima's triumphs. I've heard people say, "Why don't slaves run when they get a chance". This book will give a clear understanding. Prayers be with you always Shyima. God's blessings as well.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Please read this book. Make yourself aware of Human-Slavery. The subject matter is so important, the statistics are overwhelming, and after reading this book and finding these out, it made me want to spread the word and do more about this dreadful horrific situation. Shymia Hall has overcome so much in her short life, her early life was that of a human slave. She was dealt a very bad hand and has worked so hard to overcome her past. She should be so proud of herself, she is amazing and I hope she is patting herself on the back. She is a true example of a hero and if you need a story about a hero - this is your book and she is your GO-TO-GIRL! Good Luck Shymia & may your future be Bright~God Bless You and may you and your beloved Family ALWAYS be BLESSED!
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I could not put the book down until almost the end. Her story of being a slave engrossed me completely. I also found interesting her struggles to acculturate and obtain learning. Shyima's will to improve her lot in life shows just what determined and strong people can accomplish. However, most fascinating was her depiction of her time in slavery. It's amazing to learn of how slavery still exists even in the U.S. Her plea at the end of how all of us can be more observant to help stamp out the practice really opened my eyes.
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By Jenny on January 28, 2016
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I remember reading about Shyima Hall in the news: a girl kept as a family slave, literally right under everyone’s nose. It’s one thing to hear about such things happening. It’s quite another to have it so close to home. (She was in Irvine in Orange County. I was living in Tustin, an adjacent city, during the time.) Some years later, when I heard about her memoir, Hidden Girl: The True Story of a Modern-Day Child Slave (Simon & Schuster, 2014), I was eager to have a chance to read her side of the story.

The book begins with Shyima’s younger years in Egypt, her family plagued with financial difficulties. While the author doesn’t excuse her parents handing her over to work for another family, the book does show the reader why they probably felt they had no other choice. Kept as a slave, eight-year-old Shyima tolerated substandard living arrangements, received no education, and had no time for herself. It was work day and night. She kept track of time passed by the birthdays of her owners’ children.

When her owners decided to move to the United States, they went to a lot of trouble to make sure Shyima joined them. Shyima’s life of slavery continued over here, until someone dropped an anonymous tip about the suspicious girl to the police. Now free, Shyima’s struggles didn’t end. She faced court trials, foster family drama, and the struggle of trying to find her place in a very different culture. But in the end, you can see that she’s happy and optimistic about life and eager to educate the American public about the modern-day slave trafficking problem.

Hidden Girl is a great book, taking its reader through a whole range of emotions. Cowriter Lisa Wysocky did an excellent job keeping a very foreign and little girlish voice to the narrative.
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