Before I begin this review, I should mention that I was privileged to read a few chapters of this book at an early stage so I’m writing this with some extra insights into Katherine’s writing journey. As the book’s title hints, it’s the story of two women: the English teacher, Lydia, and her Vietnamese foster-child, Song, who is sold into prostitution by Lydia’s Cambodian boyfriend, Radha. The scene in Part 1 switches between England, where Lydia lives in the book’s present, still struggling with bitterness and regret for the past, and her time as an expat in Cambodia up until Song’s abduction. The story of Song’s life in the brothel and how she escaped and found freedom is told in the second part. The third weaves the two women’s stories together again.
I’ve never been to Cambodia but the author has, and she brings the sights and sounds of Phnom Penh to life for us in her descriptions of the city. Song’s story feels believable and has been very carefully researched, and it is informed by Katherine’s own faith that lives can be restored and transformed by grace, expressed here in human compassion and intervention, and in physical and emotional healing. This is a hope-filled and compassionate book, and I’m so grateful to Katherine for having written it. Song’s story is fiction — but the author’s point is that for many girls it isn’t, and we need to have our imaginations wakened and our consciences stirred to actively seek justice on their behalf.
It’s also a book about the releasing power of forgiveness, and here, too, its writer shows courage in extending forgiveness even to a man who sells a child to a pimp. Strangely enough, it’s Song — the one with the most to forgive — who is able to forgive her betrayers most fully. Not an easy process by any means, but one the author is committed to realising. The outcome of Lydia’s story is less certain (room for a sequel, perhaps?) but the author gives us every reason to think that she, too, can have a hope-filled ending.
This insightful and moving novel was a fantastic read and really opened up my eyes to the ongoing suffering of sex slaves. Although the content is troublesome at times it is ultimately a book of hope, illustrating how God’s love can transform any and every situation.
I really loved reading this well thought-out and insightful novel. The story line was so compelling that I struggled to put it down; and that says something, as I often find reading and getting into a story difficult. Just when you think that nothing else surprising will happen, think again; there are amazing twists which enthral the reader, particularly in the second half of the novel. Knowing that human trafficking is one of, if not the biggest form of organised crime in the world today, renders the book all the more moving as the author unveils some of the atrocities of such a current predicament. At the same time, there is a powerful message of hope and restoration that can only come about in the hands of a God who loves to heal the broken-hearted. Would highly recommend!
A beautiful novel that masterfully illustrates the saving power of Christ’s Love. The subject matter is sometimes difficult but the deft narrative switches pace the details sensitively.
The loving relationship between Lydia and Song is beautifully illustrated and the reader walks alongside them as they are separated and eventually reunited. The harrowing experience of child sex-trafficking is illustrated with a forthright honesty that, although difficult to bear at times, is necessary.