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.