Little Peach by Peggy Kern offers a stark and haunting glimpse into the real-life problem of human trafficking.
When Michelle runs away from her drug-addicted mother, she has just enough money to make it to New York City, where she hopes to move in with a friend. But once she arrives at the bustling Port Authority, she is confronted with the terrifying truth: she is alone and out of options.
Then she meets Devon, a good-looking, well-dressed guy who emerges from the crowd armed with a kind smile, a place for her to stay, and eyes that seem to understand exactly how she feels.
But Devon is not what he seems to be, and soon Michelle finds herself engulfed in the world of child prostitution where he becomes her “Daddy” and she his “Little Peach.” It is a world of impossible choices, where the line between love and abuse, captor and savior, is blurred beyond recognition.
This hauntingly vivid story illustrates the human spirit’s indomitable search for home, and one girl’s struggle to survive.
Any book that tackles a real-life issue runs the risk of reading like an after-school special, but Kern manages to avoid those pitfulls with Little Peach, while still offering a realistic glimpse at the horrors and dangers of human trafficking and teenage prostitution. At the same time, she manages to write a story that offers up an ultimately hopeful ending, without downplaying the grittier aspects of this horrific issue.
Little Peach alternates between Michelle’s past and her present, showing how she wound up being forced into prostitution and the frightening — but incredibly brave — steps she took to escape. There are a lot of complexities to the world of human trafficking, and Kern successfully integrates these fine details into Michelle’s story.
Though a quick read, Little Peach is a book that was written with care and attention to detail. Kern’s thorough research is apparent, and shines through in the authenticity of her story. Little Peach is a captivating read — but even more, it’s the launching point for an important discussion about the conditions that perpetuate human trafficking in the United States today.
Little Peach is in stores March 10th.