a walk across the sun

Two book finished in one week! It’s been a while. Last night I finished A Walk Across the Sun by Corban Addison, his debut novel. Edited from Goodreads:

When a tsunami rages through their coastal town in India, 17-year-old Ahalya Ghai and her 15-year-old sister Sita are left orphaned and homeless. With almost everyone they know suddenly erased from the face of the earth, the girls set out for the convent where they attend school. They are abducted almost immediately and sold to a Mumbai brothel owner, beginning a hellish descent into the bowels of the sex trade.

Halfway across the world, Washington, D.C., attorney Thomas Clarke faces his own personal and professional crisis-and makes the fateful decision to pursue a pro bono sabbatical working in India for an NGO that prosecutes the subcontinent’s human traffickers. There, his conscience awakens as he sees firsthand the horrors of the trade in human flesh, and the corrupt judicial system that fosters it. Learning of the fate of Ahalya and Sita, Clarke makes it his personal mission to rescue them, setting the stage for a riveting showdown with an international network of ruthless criminals.

Hmm. I have mixed feelings about this book. The premise is interesting and compelling, but I found the execution lacking… something. The subject matter of human trafficking is horrifying and ugly and I understand the author didn’t want to sensationalize it, but the writing style was somewhat dry and cold, so I had trouble emotionally connecting. It’s weird to say that a book about the world-wide human sex slave trade is light reading, but… this one didn’t make me work very hard.

A Walk Across the Sun interweaves the Indian sisters’ trying journeys with the American lawyer’s quest to rescue them and save his marriage. Now, the sisters’ chapters were the reason I kept reading. I was interested in learning about their struggles—despite their one-dimensional personalities—but I had absolutely zero interest in Thomas’s story. I didn’t care about him or his love life. I feel like my feelings about this half of the book are my fault and not the fault of the author—I don’t believe I read the blurb fully, and then the ratings on Goodreads are stellar, almost all 4 and 5 stars. But Thomas just seemed so full of himself and entitled. When he was assigned to go to India and work for the agency there fighting human trafficking I immediately thought to myself, privileged, wealthy white American male saves the day. Snore. I don’t want to give away spoilers, but the events and connections in the story all just seemed too convenient which made the book predictable.

Now, that’s not to say this is a terrible book necessarily. I DID end up finishing, and that’s thanks to the sisters. Every time the Thomas chapters started boring me, a chapter on the sisters came up and saved it for me. I felt like the book was on the long side, too. Maybe A Walk Across the Sun is a good, mild introduction to the topic of sex slavery? But I think a non-fiction investigatory exposé or personal memoir from an actual survivor of this dark underworld would be a much more powerful, affecting read than a fiction novel written by a former lawyer. I’m disappointed, I had higher hopes for this one 😦

Read from September 3 to 19, 2013.

4 thoughts on “a walk across the sun

  1. I thought this book was very well done. Thomas did bore me too, but I thought it was tastefully done….well as tastefully as it could be seeing what the subject matter was.

    It was very eye opening to me as well as very sad to know this goes on in such large scale.

    THANKS for your great review.

    Elizabeth
    Silver’s Reviews
    My Blog

    • Thanks for stopping by! I agree that the subject matter was tastefully handled, but it came off as too safe to me. Human trafficking is horrifying and I thought I’d feel outraged, moved while reading this—like my heart was being ripped out for these girls—and I just… didn’t. 😦 I know the author didn’t want to sensationalize, but I’m not sure how he could accomplish eliciting strong emotions by just being “tasteful.”

      Also for me personally, I’m not into romantic drama at all in general so the whole Thomas/Priya storyline put me really off, regardless of how interested in the rest of it I felt. And it just seemed like, as the book went on, the characters became more one-dimensional.

      Not bad, I can see why a lot of people loved it and were affected, but this one just wasn’t for me.

      (PS, I saw on your blog you read Burial Rites recently—I’m looking forward to that one!)

  2. I remember when this book came out. I was intrigued by it, but had mixed feelings about reading such a tragic story. Thanks for your review. I think I’ve relegated this to a do not read pile.

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