Monday, December 3, 2012


Kim Purcell
ISBN: 978-0670012800
Viking, 2012

Plot Summary: Hannah has been struggling ever since her parents died in a terrorist explosion and her uncle has gone missing. Trying to support her ailing grandma, she finds life in her Moldwich town challenging at best. When she’s approached by a woman named Olga with the chance to be a nanny to a family in the U.S. and get paid $400 a week for it the job offers sounds like a chance of a lifetime. At first, Hannah likes her new employers, a Russian family like her. However, after working 16-hour days every day of the week and not receiving any pay and not being allowed outside the house she begins to find reasons to expect that all is not right. Soon she finds herself acting in ways she never thought possible—sneaking outside to watch the lonely boy next door, eavesdropping, and trying to find out why it appears her employers seem to know her family. Soon Hannah is being threatened by the mother with a fate worst than death—prostitution. Can Hannah figure out the connection to her family before her life gets in further danger?

Critical Evaluation:  This is a very compelling story. There is a huge build up for how Hannah got to the U.S. and how a dream job turns into a nightmare—she’s been trafficked into the country. While she’s not forced into prostitution like most girls in real life who are trafficked, she is basically a slave to the family. The interesting thing is that the people she works for are a Russian family and not America as she thought they’d be. It’s really painful to see her being forced to work herself to death and the abuse she suffers at the hands of the mother is harrowing, especially when she chops off Hannah’s hair because she’s jealous of her beauty and thinks she’ll steal her husband. It’s all lies and more lies but it is nice to see a positive spin on illegals and that Hannah isn’t going to get in trouble for something she had no control over (coming to America illegally).

Reader's Annotation: Leaving your war torn country for the chance to make $400 a week in America sounds great doesn’t it? What happens though when you get to the job and suddenly you find yourself a slave in a foreign country with no one to turn to? This is what happens to Hannah, a victim of human trafficking.   

Author Information: Purcell went to the University of British Columbia to get a degree in International Relations and English. After she finished, she traveled to Mexico and Central America for a year, during which she wrote her experiences in a journal in Spanish. She realized she needed to tell stories, so she took the "practical" route and went to BCIT to get a broadcast journalism degree. Shortly after she graduated journalism school, she moved to Korea to travel through Asia and teach English. She started mentoring girls at WriteGirl (, an organization that pairs women writers with teen girls, and after a couple years, became the Curriculum Director. She became interested in the subject of modern day slavery and human trafficking, which became the subject of her debut novel, Trafficked (Purcell, n.d.).

Genre: Realistic

Curriculum Ties: Global issues (real-life trafficking)

Booktalking Ideas: Read a suspenseful scene, such as when she is left alone with the man who is a pimp and he threatens her with prostitution.  

Reading Level/Interest Age: 15+

Challenge Issues: The dangerous reality of trafficking—slavery, prostitution, etc. The way that many of the men tried to force themselves onto Hannah. Hannah is violently beaten by the mother and attacked by the pimp.

Challenge Defense: If this book were challenged, I would make sure the library has a Challenge Defense File ready for such a situation. Inside the Challenge Defense File, librarians and the public could find:

·        A copy of the American Library Association’s Library Bill of Rights. (Can be found and printed from ALA’s website at
·        A copy of the American Library Association’s Freedom to Read Statement (Can be found and printed from ALA’s website at
·        A copy of the library’s own selection policy (my library, the La Vista Public Library, has a policy but it is not online so I can’t link to it as an example).
·        A copy of the library’s citizen’s complaint/reconsideration form (my library, the La Vista Public Library’s, form is called the City of La Vista Service Request form).
·        Copies of reviews—both good and bad—from reputable library and publishing services to justify why a book was selected for inclusion in the collection. These include not only reviews from such journals as School Library Journal, VOYA, Horn Book, Publishers Weekly, and Booklist, but also any mention of books on YALSA lists and other copies of articles about any awards or nominations such books may have received.
·        Include a short rationale file for other coworkers so if the librarian in charge of selecting materials is not available when a challenge occurs the other staff members have some information to go by (the rational would include such information as a short summary, what could be challenged, reviews, awards and nominations, etc.)
·        Include for staff members a copy of “Strategies and Tips for Dealing with Challenges to Library Materials,” a document written by the American Library Association. Make sure that staff reviews this document periodically so they are prepared and know how to face such situations. (Can be found and printed from ALA’s website at

Reason for Inclusion: A good fictional take (and well researched) on the very real topic of human trafficking. It also shows that it’s is a lot more common than most people probably realize.  


Purcell, K. (n.d.). Bio. Retrieved from

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