Follow This Blog: RSS feed
Adult Books 4 Teens
Inside Adult Books 4 Teens

Girls Like Us

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.  Girls Like Us

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

Angela Carstensen About Angela Carstensen

Angela Carstensen is Head Librarian and an Upper School Librarian at Convent of the Sacred Heart in New York City. Angela served on the Alex Awards committee for four years, chairing the 2008 committee, and chaired the first YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adult committee in 2009. Recently, she edited Outstanding Books for the College Bound: Titles and Programs for a New Generation (ALA Editions, 2011). Contact her via Twitter @AngeReads.


  1. amy cheney says:

    I wrote this review and have no where to publish it, so here you go. Sher’s book is actually my current favorite, as it takes a look across the USA as to what is happening with the issue of child sexual exploitation, and includes wonderful programs such as Rachel Lloyd’s.

    Sher, Julian. Somebody’s Daughter. The Hidden Story of America’s Prostituted Children and the Battle to Save Them. 326p. Chicago Review Press. 2011. $24.95. ISBN. 978-1-56976-565-4.

    Many fiction and non-fiction books address the topic of child sexual slavery – books such as Living Dead Girl, (Simon Pulse, 2008) Sold (Hyperion, 2008) and most recently, Lloyd’s Girls Like Us (Harper, 2011). Few if any books address the men that enslave children. An investigative journalist, Sher gives us an inside look at the men that are commonly called pimps, but – as he articulately details – are unequivocally child molesters and rapists: how they operate, think, manipulate, abuse and exploit. The book gives equal time to all involved (including so called “johns”) – the girl’s own stories and experiences are compassionately told, including Maria, raped and beaten by a cousin’s boyfriend at age 12, recruited at age 14 into prostitution, courageously keeping her earnings by age 18 while being terrorized by her former enslaver.

    Detailing inspiring and hopeful success’ Sher outlines what can realistically happen when sexually exploited children are treated as victims and all responsible adults involved – police, prosecution, public defenders, judges, probation and social workers come together to focus on providing real services to the victims and criminalizing those responsible. At the same time, he doesn’t minimize how far we have to go.

    Teens who are socially conscious, politically active, exploring feminism, society’s attitudes towards women, modern day slavery or who enjoy true crime stories that relate to them, such as Lois Duncan’s Who Killed My Daughter (Dell, 1994) will love this book.

  2. amy cheney says:

    There is also a documentary on Rachel Lloyd’s work called Very Young Girls. (the book is better).

    For an eyeopening look at the mind and world of pimps, get the movie

    American Pimp (1999)

    Street pimps, all of them African-American, discuss their lives and work: getting started, being flamboyant, pimping in various U.S. cities, bringing a woman into their group, taking a woman from another pimp, and the rules and regulations of pimping. The men are clear: it’s about money. The women work every night, hustle hard, turn over all their earnings, and steal anything they can from clients. We meet a few of the women, who tell us what they want from a pimp. We also listen to a women who’s legally employed at a Nevada brothel; we meet her White boss, a legal pimp. He and the street pimps, some of whom are now retired, make the case for legalizing the trade.

  3. Nice job Amy- thanks for your reviews on these important issues. We’ve added your book review to our Facebook page-ALA COSWL American Library Association, Committee on the Status of Women in Librarianship –keep up the good work & keep writing on issues esp for girls & young women out there. They need a voice today
    Thank you, Karen Weaver

  4. amy cheney says:

    Cool, Karen, Thanks!