* Prices may differ from that shown
This was a bit of a spur of the moment e-book purchase - I saw it on offer for 69p on amazon, and a quick skim through of some of the reviews on there made me think this might be something that was interesting to read.
It tells the tale of Sarah Forsyth, who grew up living with an sexually, verbally, and physically abusive father, who would beat her mother, and sexually abuse and insult Sarah. She suffered the abuse for many years, until her fathers new girlfriend noticed what was going on, and called the authorities. As was standard at the time, Sarah was put into a series of care homes - some rather normal, others just as full of abuse as her home had been. At 16, as was standard in those days, she was spat out of the system -and returned to live with her mother, until she fell in love, moved in together, and married. However, when the marriage fell apart, life began to seem dull, Sarah fond a job as a nursery nurse in Holland- excellent rates of pay, a live in position, and a chance to leave all the bad memories behind. However, the job offer wasn't what it seems, and she found herself forced to work in Amsterdam's red light district, kept in check by threats of violence and an addiction to drugs.
That might seem like a lot of spoilers in that first paragraph, but this is only quite a short book, and Sarah skims over the first part of her life only very briefly and matter-of-factly before she gets to the meat of the story - her time as a sex slave in Amsterdam, and her eventual escape and attempt to return to a normal life. The book itself is actually written by Tim Tate in Sarahs voice, and is written almost as though an actual conversation is being overheard - there isn't any floweriness of poeticism in the book, any attempt to make it more friendly or palatable. In fact, the level of brutality in the book is absolutely astounding, and at times I was in two minds if I should carry on or not. There are scenes of violence, physical and sexual abuse, including that of minors, murder, and descriptions of drug taking.
There were many parts of the book I found shocking - not just the events being described in gritty detail, but also the way the Dutch legal system handles these things, the generosity and forgiveness Sarah showed several people who (in my mind as a reader) didn't deserve it, but the biggest thing to get my head round was simply that this sort of thing not only still happens in the world, but could happen to an ordinary bright British teenager.
I can't say that I enjoyed reading this - I didn't. And I'm not too sure I'd really recommend it to a friend - after all, it's not pleasant reading.But I can say that reading this was something of an education for me, and that I do feel it was a tale worth telling, and certainly worth the 69p it currently costs on Amazon. 4 stars.