e the sex industry The book is structured somewhat cleverly, as she flip flops back and forth between anecdotes from her life, proceeding in chronological order snippets of stories of other exploited girls she s worked with and her general commentary about the life, organized thematically Her personal story is fascinating, riveting, and at times horrifying, but there are huge gaps that left me constantly wanting information She tells us the story of how she wound up first going to work at a strip club, and she goes into great detail in telling the stories of abuse by her ex boyfriends, but I have so many questions Who were these boyfriends Where did she meet them How did they become so abusive How did she leave them, and get them to leave her alone There is also almost no detail about her actual experiences in the sex industry She implies she was than just a dancer, but there isn t much detail I understand reasons why she might not want to divulge , but I am curious to know about what she did, how she felt about it, how things changed over time, etc.
, etc The stories of girls she s worked with through her nonprofit are also fascinating Telling them each as short snippets usually works very well, but sometimes I wish there was detail about who these girls are Perhaps she could have chosen a couple girls with particularly interesting stories to follow throughout the book to give us a little depth Meanwhile, at least half the book was devoted to her personal commentary Some of her commentary is really great She has a very powerful passage about the cycle of abuse in these families, in which girls who are abused as children turn to abusive men and then refuse to believe when their daughters are abused She provides a very insightful explanation of why these girls fall under the spell of pimps, why they are so easily manipulated, and why it s so hard for them to leave That being said, most of her commentary I found kind of boring and at times overly preachy I think the book would have gained a lot by replacing some of the unnecessary commentary with details from her story To give one example, she at one point devotes a lengthy passage to her argument that girls in the life do not make a choice to enter it She starts with the dictionary definition of the word choice, then hammers the argument home one her points is that pre teen and teenage girls do not make good decisions with no acknowledgement of this inherent contradiction This is one of the fundamental points of the book, but I think the stories do a better job making her point than she does If I was her editor, I would suggest striking that whole section, and instead, after telling a couple anecdotes of girls including herself entering the life in a moment of desperation, just including one line that says People assume girls who enter the sex industry choose to do so but do they Then let the reader decide She also treats some topics with lots of insights and nuance, and other topics with none For example, at one point she says all johns are the same, and those who are nice to the girls and pretend to care about them don t She then describes johns who are serial killers and commit unspeakable crimes I am very far removed from the life, but the notion that all johns are the same just can t be true And if the girls really think that, it would have been interesting to get a better, thoughtful understanding of why I also don t know the extent to which the characters of this book reflect the sex industry writ large The impression I got from reading this book is that 99.
9% of prostitutes start before reaching the age of 16, and guys who buy sex on Craigslist are almost all purchasing sex with pre teen or teenage girls I have no idea if this is true or not, and she doesn t provide much in terms of data If it is true, it s obviously horrifying Overall, this was an interesting book that gave me a lot to think about Her message is a compelling one, but it left me wanting a lot detail about both her story and about the life she describes.
I was a little nervous about adding this book to the collection as it is a book about the sex trafficking trade However, it was a starred review and recommended for teens So, when it arrived, I put it on my list of books to read I was pleasantly surprised It was fabulous Ms Lloyd is to be commended, not only for writing a wonderful book on a topic that many Americans don t think about the American sex slave, child prostitute , but for opening up her own life for as a lens to use for looking at the trade.
While there is harsh language and sometimes there are some situations that are described that are distasteful abuse, etc , she is able to convey all of it without resorting to graphic descriptions of the sex act itself So, while it is definitely a grade 9 and above purchase, it should be a purchase for any high school library that has a group of students who are into social activism, who are inspired by women who make something of their lives or who are involved in Model United Nations and might be working on committees with topics dealing with sex trafficking issues.
I have to say, this is really the book that changed my life Before I read it, I had only the vaguest suspicions that the boyfriend I d had when I was 18, the one I thought loved me like no one else did, the one I gave all my stripper and extras money to, was really a pimp I thought I d just been weak and stupid, but this book explained the psychology of the life in a clear way that gave me a better understanding of myself such a gift What s , it gave me increased empathy for the girls who had it so much worse I d known about girls who d been years younger than I was when they d fallen under the control of a pimp I competed with them for money in the strip club, I walked past them in the street, we had mutual acquaintances This book showed me they were not girls to talk shit about or even pity Their pain, their past, their futures are linked not just to me, but to every woman and every member of society, whether they are conscious of it or not.
Even if I did not personally relate to this book as a former prostitute note I use the word prostitute when describing myself because I was a legal adult, three months past my eighteenth birthday, the first time I turned a trick However, I wholeheartedly agree with the term commercially sexually exploited children in regards to the younger girls, because prostitute implies a choice, and a teenager who cannot legally consent to sex cannot be considered responsible for any choice others make with regards to them having sex for money and even if I had never felt the tight grip of a pimp, and the life itself, I would still recommend this book It is beautifully written The clarity of Rachel Lloyd s explanations will make you understand on an intellectual level The sheer horror of the subject matter will make you understand on a visceral level The way Rachel writes, with honesty and even humor, will make you understand on an emotional level, and that is the most important of all.
This is a book that everyone should read Rachel Lloyd tells her story of sexual exploitation as a young girl, how she finally escaped the grips of her pimp, and made the decision to start working with other young girls and women Lloyd grew up in England in a rough and tumultuous home As a teen, she ran away to Germany, where penniless and frightened, she started working as a stripper Her stories are heartbreaking and real She is graphic in her depictions of physical abuse the story is frequently painful to read The woman she has become is marvelous and beautiful At age 23, Lloyd came to NYC to start working for a nonprofit organization Through her work with other girls, she was able to heal her wounds, and become a serious activist The main point of Girls Like Us is to drive home that there are no teen prostitutes Lloyd explains that there are sexually exploited and trafficked girls these girls are victims, with no choices, who are forced into the life She is emphasizing and re emphasizing that commercial sexual trafficking occurs everyday, here in the US, with American girls.
Lloyd founds GEMS, a nonprofit organization, where she pushes to change legislation that penalizes adolescent girls for being bought by older men Lloyd wants these girls to stay out of jail, and get into treatment GEMS provides a safe harbor in NYC where the trafficked girls can go for love, support, and leadership skills The door at GEMS is constantly revolving almost all of the girls go back to their pimps over and over again Escaping the life is an uphill battle for these teenagers The love of their pimps is often the only care they ve ever received, and their lives on the track is the only normal one Lloyd has seemingly infinite patience and zero judgment Each time a girl returns, she welcomes them with the same love and support Eventually, many of the girls leave the life, and with the help of GEMS, go on to finish high school, get jobs, and create something with their lives The beauty and camaraderie that forms between the girls is healing, and for the reader breathtaking.
Throughout the book, I felt like I was repeatedly getting punched in the gut I would fill up with tears after reading a single sentence For example Incest is bootcamp for prostitution Or when Rachel is sitting with her first real girlfriend, who has forgotten to get her husband a cup of tea, and Rachel naively asks, Why didn t he hit you For me, that sentence succinctly sums up how perfectly normal physical abuse was for Lloyd Girls Like Us spans a period of over 15 years The reader gets to experience everything from Lloyd s childhood, her terrifying adolescence, emerging adulthood, and evolution into an educated and successful young woman Alongside Lloyd s development is the growth of GEMS, and many of the GEMS girls As I said in the beginning, I feel this is a book that everyone should read It reframes issues of social justice and child exploitation Lloyd makes clear that the US has a long way to go in terms of how it treats its young girls and women So many of the books we read today are stories of survivors from around the world I ve read dozens of stories by women from Cambodia or Nigeria or some other faraway place who have escaped lives of sexual exploitation and abuse It is so easy for a woman like me to forget or ignore what is happening right in our own communities Girls Like Us is a painful and poignant reminder that change needs to happen here in the US now.
I had the privilege of meeting Rachel Lloyd at a talk tonight at Circle of Hope where I bought her book, which she inscribed, To the girls at Penn Treaty, with encouragement, love, respect.
Everyone should be aware of this issue, but not necessarily all should read this particular book As a novice writer, Rachel attempts to convince her readers that this issue is heinous and worthy of attention, but her writing skills do not match up with her ability to educate her readers After 100 pages or so, I was tired of hearing her explain again and again how these girls are worthy of sympathy, abused and exploited, and in need of media attention Of course I strongly agree that this issue needs to be addressed in our society, but I felt that this book could have been better written to encourage people to step up and take action.
It s hard to read a book like this without your eyes welling up continuously The author, Rachel Lloyd, is a saint.
The book alternates chapters of her life in the life, which means exploited girls in the commercial sex trade, with her struggle and eventual success at establishing an organization called GEMS, which rescues trafficked girls in the United States and rebuilds their lives, which often takes months or years The girls are trafficked as young as 11, often from abusive homes, and develop PTSD after years of alternate beating and loving and earning tens of thousands for their pimp Given their horrendous backgrounds, the girls call their pimp Daddy, and find the new family life normal, because of trinkets he ll buy her or trips to MacDonalds, or getting to meet regularly and maybe even have dinner with all her sister cousins, although the Daddy tries to keep them jealous and competitive with each other.
The book is so harrowing that I don t know what to compare it to a dogfight a snuff film The beatings and humiliations that the trafficked girls receive daily cause them to eventually feel that they re worthless, or good only for sex with paying customers the profits from which they all have to render to their Daddies.
The last chapter of the book is heartening, because the author sees some of her girls get GEDs, jobs, and even normal relationships by the time they leave the GEMS program Some of the oldest ones are 23 The U.
S Congress finally reverses years of unkindly blaming by passing a law against trafficking girls under 18 The ending of the book makes you want to cry for happiness.
So you are basically crying through the book for different reasons.
This is a powerful, powerful book The author founded GEMs at the age of 22 It was hard for me to believe that it was humanly possible for her to accomplish what she has She s a remarkable woman.
BIG THANKS TO MY BEST FRIEND IN REAL LIFE, Joss she published a book, you should check it out for gifting me this book during Christmas I have finally got around to reading it and I LOVED IT.
If you scroll through the books I read, I might read a variety of things YA, adult, manga, middle grade, manhwa but rarely do I touch nonfiction I m not much of a nonfiction reader, it s not something I particularly like to read So when I was given this book, I was hesitant to read it When I decided to buckle down and give it a go, I was punctured through the soul from page one The data that Rachel Lloyd provides may have changed, but it does not neglect the information that is discussed and the real life experiences that Lloyd and the girls she works with go through The book is never preachy, as you might think of a book advocating in the fight against sex trafficking It simply allows you to think in a different way and that s what I found most compelling about the book Throughout the book, she inserts her own experience in the life and teaches some terminology for us squares She also inserts experiences and accounts of multiple girls that she works with at her organization Girls Educational and Mentoring Services GEMS.
I love that her organizations is called GEMS even before it got down to the last chapters where she explains the backstory of the organization Because throughout the book, and I definitely see this still to this day, that these girls are seen as trash and already unfixable I think it was very thought provoking to read about what they go through, and how society treats them I was shocked that these girls would be convicted rather than viewed as victims while the pimp goes scot free Of course, there were times it somewhat bordered on promoting GEMS or becoming a memoir, but it never took over the overall message of general awareness, teaching, and advocacy against sex trafficking And it never took over the stories of these powerful girls and girls still out there currently who are stuck in this life.
This is a heavy read and you will put it down multiple times after reading a simple sentence that will strike you right in the heart and while you put it down you will want to think But that s what Rachel Lloyd might have intended this shouldn t be something you just fly through.
A Deeply Moving Story By A Survivor Of The Commercial Sex Industry Who Has Devoted Her Career To Activism And Helping Other Young Girls Escape The Life At Thirteen, Rachel Lloyd Found Herself Caught Up In A World Of Pain And Abuse, Struggling To Survive As A Child With No Responsible Adults To Support Her Vulnerable Yet Tough, She Eventually Ended Up A Victim Of Commercial Sexual Exploitation It Took Time And Incredible Resilience, But Finally, With The Help Of A Local Church Community, She Broke Free Of Her Pimp And Her Past Three Years Later, Lloyd Arrived In The United States To Work With Adult Women In The Sex Industry And Soon Founded Her Own Nonprofit GEMS, Girls Educational And Mentoring Services To Meet The Needs Of Other Girls With Her History She Also Earned Her GED And Won Full Scholarships To College And A Graduate Program Today Lloyd Is Executive Director Of GEMS In New York City And Has Turned It Into One Of The Nation S Most Groundbreaking Nonprofit Organizations In Girls Like Us, Lloyd Reveals The Dark, Secretive World Of Her Past In Stunning Cinematic Detail And, With Great Humanity, She Lovingly Shares The Stories Of The Girls Whose Lives She Has Helped Small Victories That Have Healed Her Wounds And Made Her Whole Revelatory, Authentic, And Brave, Girls Like Us Is An Unforgettable Memoir