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Friday, November 20, 2015

REVIEW: Traffick by Ellen Hopkins

For Hopkins fans, Traffick is the much anticipated sequel to Tricks. Again, readers become transfixed by the stories of five teens, all pushed into child prostitution based on crucial life choices and as a necessity to survive. Eden, the preacher’s daughter who turns tricks in Vegas after her escape from an abusive religious deprogramming facility; Seth, the gay farm boy disowned by his father who uses his body in order to have food and a place to live; Whitney, the privileged kid manipulated into the life and heroin addiction by a pimp; Ginger, who runs away from home with her girlfriend and is arrested for soliciting an undercover cop; and Cody, whose gambling debts force him into the life, but who is shot and left for dead. As this novel closed, readers were left with so many questions as to the fate of these young teens.

While Tricks chronicled the downward spiral of these characters, Traffick brings readers back to Eden, Seth, Whitney, Ginger, and Cody as each begins to change the course of their lives for the better.  There are definite themes of redemption and second chances. While each teen has significant struggles to overcome, Hopkins explores the aftermath of these events and illuminates the harsh realities of child prostitution in the United States.

As with most of Hopkins' novels in verse, I found both Tricks and Traffic haunting. These journeys are heart-wrenching, gritty and all too realistic.  I'm glad that there is this sequel to lend a bit of closure to the events in the first book.  Hopkins' delivery and writing style are like none other.  There is something about the narration via poetry that makes the reading experience that more intimate.

There are plenty of realistic fiction novels published with teen readers in mind. However, none deliver the edgy, hard to talk about topics quite like Hopkins. Such issues exist and are realities for many teens. It is important that they have access to such books to understand that they are not alone.

Final rating: 5 out of 5 stars

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