Rachel Lloyd’s book is effective as both a memoir and as a way to build awareness for her cause. Lloyd is the founder of GEMS, Girls Educational & Mentoring Services, “the only organization in New York State specifically designed to serve girls and young women who have experienced commercial sexual exploitation and domestic trafficking.” It is the largest organization in this country helping girls to leave the sex industry.
While a book like Half the Sky by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn (Knopf, 2009) focuses on global trafficking, Girls Like Us reveals what is right in front of us here at home.
LLOYD, Rachel. Girls Like Us: Fighting for a World Where Girls Are Not for Sale, an Activist Finds Her Calling and Heals Herself. 268p. HarperCollins. 2011. Tr $24.99. ISBN 978-0-06-158205-9. LC number unavailable.
Adult/High School–Lloyd takes readers on a frightening, intense, angry, hilarious, passionate, and uplifting journey from sexually exploited minor to survivor and thriver. Packed with sobering facts (a recent Boston survey found that more than 44% of teens felt that physical fighting was normal in a relationship and more than half think that Rihanna was responsible for Chris Brown beating her), the book’s strength lies equally in Lloyd’s clear, honest autobiographical insights as she provides a roadmap of her relationships, challenges, and issues. Using her story as an example, Lloyd explores the notion of choice and responsibility. Entering into the sex industry at the age of 17 and clearly making a choice to dance in a club, she is able to depict and decipher the bigger societal issues that led to that choice out of non-choices and find peace in her struggle to overcome shame and blame. Her story is not typical yet it is clearly part of a pattern of the horrors of misogyny. It keeps readers turning the pages while offering a depth of example that makes her experiences all movingly real. Lloyd’s humility, humor, and strength shine through. The details of girls’ experiences, personal struggles, and political insights expose complex societal issues in accessible, expansive, and thought provoking ways. The title and cover will attract teens; the content will keep them involved and engaged.– Amy Cheney, Alameda County Library, Juvenile Hall, CA