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Searching for Pilar Paperback – April 10, 2018
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"Warlight" by Michael Ondaatje
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The book follows Pilar's journey from Mexico City to Houston, from enslavement to liberation. The books details the horrors the victims must endure in shocking, but necessary, detail. While I was appalled by Pilar's treatment, it was Pilar's courage, strength, and humanity that most touched me.Most people would be so traumatized that they would let fear, hate, and anger rule them. Pilar, on the other hand, displays courage, resilience, and boundless love for her fellow victims.
Interwoven in Pilar's story, is the story of her brother, Diego, who searches for her tirelessly. As the story begins Diego is a typical young man engrossed in his dream to be a professional soccer player. But, he did not really work very hard even for that dream. That all changes when Pilar disappears. He trails her tirelessly, relentlessly. He grows and matures and endures.
The author paints these characters with a detailed brush that engages the reader in the story. You can feel Pilar's fear, her despair, her resolution. The world of sex trafficking is equally well developed. You can see the Men's Club where Pilar is taken to work. You can see the places where she is imprisoned. You can see the seedy motels where she is forced to work. Well worth reading.
The variety of ways that she and the other girls abducted with her in Mexico is an eye opener. As she is taken from Mexico to Houston, we see where trafficking coexists alongside impressive sky scrapers, and money, and businessmen, and the horror of this reality is shocking.
The pain, brutality and inhumanity of Pilar’s situation is balanced by the near herculean efforts of her brother Diego to locate her. The path he takes, and the unrelentless searching is a testament to the ties that bind family.
The book brings to light so many other issues related to sex trafficking – how the girls are treated should they escape (and well as their ability to cope with all they have been through), the way that these girls are looked at wrongly, when they are truly victims of circumstance.
The strength of Searching For Pilar is in the author’s characterizations – she does a wondrous job of bringing the characters to life. Where the bad guys could easily becomes cartoonish in stereotype, she makes them terrifyingly real. There were a few scenes that were difficult to read, and the description felt a bit awkward in the first rape scene – but I can’t imagine how difficult it was to write, so I quickly moved past it.
The book sets a steady pace and despite the difficult subject I found it hard to put down.
I was provided a copy of the book for review purposes. All thoughts are my own.
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No longer will I assume that the women who work in strip clubs, no matter how upscale, are there by choice.