Sibel Hodge should be applauded for tackling this difficult and emotive subject. Trafficking is one of those things which everyone knows takes place but few people want to face. This novella relates the experiences of Elena, a young woman who has been snatched from her village and taken into a life of sexual servitude.
Hodge avoids sensationalism and sentimentality by writing in a restrained and controlled style. This serves to heighten the brutality and squalor of Elena’s new life. Slowly but surely we experience a terrible atmosphere of claustrophobia, hopelessness and despair. As a male reader, one of the most disturbing things is the collusion of the many men she comes into contact with, whether users of her sexual favours, taxi-drivers and even policemen.
I would have liked for the control and restraint in the writing to have been relieved at the height of the story as Elena’s heroism is in danger of getting a little lost in the objectivity of the prose. I also thought that the character of Jamie would have benefited from a more in-depth analysis of his character and motivation. However, I am aware that this may have removed the focus from the objective description of the dreadful life which Elena has been condemned to live.
This is an honest, tough and unremittingly recital of the inhumanity which some men descend to. All is not hopeless, however, and this well-judged and nuanced book allows us to see that a glimpse of better things in the end.