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Thursday, March 1, 2012

Review: Girls Like Us by Rachel Lloyd

Publisher: Harper Perennial
Genre: Memoir
 Paperback, 288 pages 
Book Source: TLC Book Tours
My Rating:  95/100

During her teens, Rachel Lloyd ended up a victim of commercial sexual exploitation. With time, through incredible resilience, and with the help of a local church community, she finally broke free of her pimp and her past and devoted herself to helping other young girls escape “the life.”
In Girls Like Us, Lloyd reveals the dark world of commercial sex trafficking in cinematic detail and tells the story of her groundbreaking nonprofit organization: GEMS, Girls Educational and Mentoring Services. With great humanity, she shares the stories of the girls whose lives GEMS has helped—small victories that have healed her wounds and made her whole. Revelatory, authentic, and brave, Girls Like Us is an unforgettable memoir.


Choices, options, alternatives, these are all things that girls who are victims of commercial sexual exploitation do not have.  Author Rachel Lloyd knows this fact because she herself was once one of those girls.  Emotionally and physically abused, doing what she had to in order to survive, Lloyd was lucky enough to escape the life.  She now makes her life’s work to help, nurture and support as many commercially exploited girls as she can.

This book is a memoir but Lloyd crafts it is such a way that it is a memoir, documentary, and research paper all in one.  The reader learns how underage girls, mostly under 16 years of age, are easy targets for pimps, who are usually much older and worldly than their prey.  Yes, those same pimps, whom society has deemed as cool and interesting.  This is also discussed a bit in the book.  Through her nonprofit organization GEMS (Girls Educational and Mentoring Services) Lloyd does outreach in New York City prisons and detention centers, trying to offer hope and a chance for girls to get out of the life.  But it is unbelievably difficult for these girls to break away for many reasons, most of all they have nowhere to go.  No family, no friends, no place to sleep.  Therefore the “comforts” that pimps can provide, for fees coming from sex of course, are the only option these girls have.

With each chapter Lloyd explains how and why the life exists, how it operates, society’s attitudes and ignorance, and trying to break free.  The narrative interweaves facts with stories about GEMS girls, in addition to Lloyd’s personal experiences in the life.  Lloyd and the girls are mirror images of each other, and my heart goes out to all of them.  I definitely think much differently about several aspects of this life and our society’s response towards it.

What struck me the most and has stayed with me is the examples of glamorization of the life by society.  From rappers being pimps and joking about the life, to how Law & Order: SVU makes it look so easy to get out.  It never occurred to me, or I had never taken this problem seriously.  Everyone is so concerned right now with birth control, how about helping these girls on the streets who have no one to turn to .  But let me not get political.
This was a wonderfully written book that has made me question our society and what I can do to help these girls.  Sure I can make a donation to GEMS, but I will also tell everyone I know about these issues to make them think. I highly recommend this book, and I am so glad I read it, even though it may not make for the happiest of reading.  It is subject that should be discussed and receive public awareness.  Hopefully this book is the first step.

Please visit the GEMS website for more information on how you can help and spread the word about sexually exploited girls

Rachel’s Tour Stops

Tuesday, February 28th: Take Me Away
Wednesday, February 29th: The House of the Seven Tails
Thursday, March 1st: Jenny Loves to Read
Monday, March 5th: The Feminist Texican
Tuesday, March 6th: Book Hooked Blog
Wednesday, March 7th: Sidewalk Shoes
Thursday, March 8th: Melody & Words
Monday, March 12th: Elle Lit
Tuesday, March 13th: Jenn’s Bookshelves
Wednesday, March 14th: Books Like Breathing
Friday, March 16th: Good Girl Gone Redneck
Monday, March 19th: The Englishist
Wednesday, March 21st: Buried in Print
Thursday, March 22nd: Broken Teepee

Thank you very much to TLC Book Tours for including me on this tour.  Always a good read.  Always making me step out of comfort zone and I appreciate it.

© Jenny Girl - 2012 "All Rights Reserved"