Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Traffic by Ellen Hopkins - Review and Giveaway

The sequel to “Tricks,” Hopkins’ latest book follows five teenage victims of sex trafficking — from all walks of life and gender orientations — as they try to extricate themselves from their current situations and find a new way of life.
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Author: Ellen Hopkins
Publication Date:  3 November 2015
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Series:  Tricks, book 2
Genre:  Young Adult, Contemporary 
Age Recommendation: Very Mature 16 and up
Rating: 4 Stars

~ I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review ~ 

Book Description:
Five teens victimized by sex trafficking try to find their way to a new life in this riveting companion to the New York Times bestselling Tricks from Ellen Hopkins, author of Crank.

In her bestselling novel, Tricks, Ellen Hopkins introduced us to five memorable characters tackling these enormous questions: Eden, the preacher’s daughter who turns tricks in Vegas and is helped into a child prostitution rescue; Seth, the gay farm boy disowned by his father who finds himself without money or resources other than his own body; Whitney, the privileged kid coaxed into the life by a pimp and whose dreams are ruined in a heroin haze; Ginger, who runs away from home with her girlfriend and is arrested for soliciting an undercover cop; and Cody, whose gambling habit forces him into the life, but who is shot and left for dead.

And now, in Traffick, these five are faced with the toughest question of all: Is there a way out? How these five teenagers face the aftermath of their decisions and experiences is the soul of this story that exposes the dark, ferocious underbelly of the child trafficking trade. Heart wrenching and hopeful, Traffick takes us on five separate but intertwined journeys through the painful challenges of recovery, rehabilitation, and renewal to forgiveness and love. All the way home.

Pimps - The Trailer:

My Review:

This book is quite the read, I hate to admit that I went into this a little blind.  I had not read the first book in the series, Tricks, but after doing a little research I knew that I had to go into this book carefully.  This was going to be a book that I normally wouldn't pick up on my own (we all know I am a happy go lucky HEA kind of reader), it was going to be a book that would pull at my heartstrings in an ugly momma cry sort of way, it would chew me up, spit me out, and then stomp all over me long after I cried UNCLE.  Interestingly enough I was both wrong and right about my feelings toward this book.

What made me wrong:

First, Ellen Hopkins writing style, prose has a way that draws you quietly into the story.  It allows the reader to glide through the pages, internalize the feelings, but let the harsh words and reality flow through your mind in such a way that you aren't left completely broken. Had any number of other authors written this book it would have left the reader with a gritty, dirty, hateful, angry type of feeling because that is what this book is.  It's dirty, it's scary, it will leave you angry and hurt, sad and aching but Ellen is, through her mastery of prose, able to make it something beautiful at the same time. She is able to give this dark, almost secret, topic light...to bring something taboo into the forefront of your mind and make you think.  It makes you want to remember what you just read because while it will sit heavily in your heart her words allow it to sit there in a comfortable spot with a beautifully glowing sign that asks you 'How can I help them'?

(click picture for more information)

So this book, it will chew you up and spit you out, it might even do a quick little jig over your remains before you are done, BUT it does know the meaning of calling out UNCLE.  We all know I am a happily Ever After girl and in the end that is what this book is about.  Yes, the happily ever afters may not look as pretty and shiny as one from a contemporary romance for example. There isn't a couple rididng off into the sunset on the back of a Harley with all their friends waving and cheering for the love the main characters found.  But there is love, there is peace, there is happiness to be had for these children and their families.  It is a long road and it is clear that their recovery does not end with the final page of the book, and that is as it should be.  These children have been used, abused, brutalized, forced to age beyond their years, traumatized, and victimized.  These children will NEVER be the same, but the fact that they will one day find peace, happiness, and love brings us full circle because in the end that is all they ever wanted to begin with.  Yes, these children have to take responsibility for many of their actions, but they are not to blame for what happens to them.  I think this is something that we as a society manage to gloss over, mainly because it hurts to see the truth.  Yes these children at times made bad choices (don't we all?) but each one of them was already a victim, each one of them were left to make decisions they were not equipped to make and forced to find ways to save themselves because no one else was willing to save them. We forget that Human Trafficking isn't just something that happens randomly, that a person isn't always snatched out from underneath us all, stolen away, and forced into life of degradation and depravation.  We forget that the life of the teen next door could easily find itself in a position that they have no control over and
 no understanding of how to escape from.  

(For more information on RAINN (Rape, Abuse, Incest, National Network) and PTSD click on the picture)

What made me right:

This is a rough read, there is no other way to say it.  This topic is painful and brutal. This is not a book for the light hearted.  You are going to ache for these characters, you are going to cry for them, you are going to get angry at them, you are going to want to save them.  This isn't a book filled with sunshine and lollipops, but it is a book filled with a beauty you wouldn't expect.  The beauty of these children (not with out assistance) saving themselves.  The process is painful for all involved but the reward of a future at the end for these characters makes the story so worth reading...if the topic itself wasn't enough of a reason. There is no easy with this book, it is clear that Ms. Hopkins put not only a great deal of love into this story but a whole heck of a lot of research.  The fact that we are getting this story from five very different teens makes it that much more compelling....it is a reminder that this isn't the story of randomness, but the story of teens every and any where....a few bad choices, a difficult situation, a craving for love...so many ways that one of these teens could be ANY teen.  

These are difficult stories being told, there it is.  This is not a book to go into lightly.  This is a book that will have you reading with a heavy heart, but this is a book that is worthy of the time and the emotions.  I do suggest reading Tricks first, because while this is a book of hope in the end all of these children got to this place through a series of events and those events all occur in Tricks.  This is also not what I would call a 'linear' story....you will bounce back and forth between the five main characters so getting to know them in book one is crucial to your feeling for them and being able to keep up with them in book two. 

***IF you have triggers to abuse, rape, death, drug abuse...go into this book with caution!***

***This book, while a YA, is book for MATURE YA readers.  Please do not let your 13/14 year old pick up this book and read it alone, if at all.  Heck I'd like it if parents read it with their 17 year olds.  There is a lot that goes on in these books and a lot of it is ugly and painful and brutal, there is a lot to process and a lot to talk about!  


Traffick Teasers:
Follow The Tour:
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November 2nd Acting Up With Books – Review
November 3rd Reads All The Books  – Review
November 3rd Christine Abee  – Review
November 4th anything but vanilla book blog – Top Ten List
November 4thBookish Lifestyle – Guest Post
November 4th– A Diary Of A Book Addict – Review
November 4th Beauty's Library – Review/Author Interview
November 5th KDH Reviews  – Review
November 5th Reads and Treats  – Review
November 6th Book Chic  – Review
November 6thThe Power of Three Readers – Review
November 9th Reading Junky's Reading Roost – Review
November 9th Backseats and Airports – Review  
 November 10th Journeys & Life  – Review
November 10th heyheyheyjackie – Review
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November 10thBookish Lifestyle – Review
November 11th   Reading Is Better With Cupcakes – Review
November 11th Heather Ann's Book Reviews – Review
November 11thShe Reads New Adult – Review
November 12th BookAHolics Anonymous – Review
November 12th Erin Fanning – Guest Post
November 13th Heather Harlen – Random Ten’s List
November 13th Alec John Belle  – Review
November 13th Confessions of a Kid-lit Lover  – Review
November 13thMelissa Martin's Reading List – Review / Interview
November 13thThe Phantom Paragrapher – Review
November 13thTeen Librarian Toolbox – Review / Interview
November 13thMiranda's Book Blog – Guest Post 

About The Author:
Ellen Hopkins is a poet, freelance writer, and the award-winning author of twenty nonfiction titles and five NY Times Bestselling novels-in-verse. She has published hundreds of articles on subjects ranging from aviation to child abuse to winegrowing. Ellen mentors other writers through her position as a regional adviser for the Nevada chapter of the Society of Children√ïs Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). She is a regular speaker at schools; book festivals and writers conferences across the US, and now throughout the world. 
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  1. Amazing review. I am so happy that you were able to find the light in all of the darkness. Ellen's books are a go-to for me, without a doubt but some can't handle the subject issues that she tackles. Though, thinking about it; who will?

    Thank you for taking the time to read and review TRAFFICK and as always for your dedicated participation. You are a superstar! xx


  2. Fantastic review! This wasn't really on my radar, but I think I really need to get it. Maybe I can do books this year for awareness instead of the Little Black Dress project.

  3. Thank you Andye and I think that doing an awareness project would be amazing, although I really do love seeing all the amazing things you manage with that Little Black Dress! <3

  4. Thanks for the amazing review! Now I cannot wait to read Traffick! I would have to say that my favorite contemporary is from yours truly: Ellen Hopkins. The first book of hers that I read was Crank and I was hooked. I have all of her books :) Thanks for the giveaway! Fingers crossed...