Author: Iola Smirnov
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Disclaimer: I got this book to review from Book Publicity Services
Before you read this review, please proceed with the understanding that this book is not for those who shy away from violence and sex. I don't review books which have erotic content in it. I have made an exception here out of choice.
Is money a very decisive factor in our lives? Sitting in our own cocoons we cannot nod our heads sagely and look down upon those who beg to differ. The first thing that strikes me about this story was the background in which it was written. The author has declared that this story has been inspired by real-life events. Someone who has seen sex trade by being a part of it. My curiosity was piqued by this bold statement for watching about it in the movies as to why a woman enters sex trade or why a man becomes an animal enough to degrade women to such an extent. This story is set in the 90s when Soviet Ukraine was going through a devastating depression due to its flattering economy. It was during this time, when three sisters,Natalia, Lena and Julia were forced to go to Luxembourg, Western Europe to make some quick money.
Each one of us are born under different stars. While one sister was a strong one and could mange to come out of it with dignity, the second one was one of those who fell in love easily, got hurt easily and recovered easily. The story concentrates on the third sister Julia. As a character, I found Julia very contradictory. Her vulnerability was in constant battle with her sense of independence. It was definitely not good for her. As a reviewer, I don't want to judge the morality of her behaviour but the way the author has portrayed Julia's behaviour and the direct consequence her actions had on her life has some tear jerking moments.
I'm not apologising
Not one instance shows Julia as one who is sorry for choosing this path. She is drugged, abused, raped and betrayed. But after each incident she feels surprised and this is what surprises me. Did she not expect all these things to happen to her the moment she set her life into this path? Feminists out there may question me regarding my supporting a man for doing the things he does to Julia. I am not. In fact. I don't want to talk about any man featured in this story for they all come out like animals.
To quote Julia on her non-apologetic actions:
"The only paradox that can't stop stirring in my head is why on earth am I so morally comfortable with what I'm doing? I do not feel ashamed or dirty because I'm a pro."
But then only those who can pocket the morality and can walk on this path has to have a part of the mind or heart locked up – not to be seen by strangers or even one's own conscious. It is only when we question if actions are good or bad, then only the fear of the "society" comes into our heart. But Julia was very clear when she had stepped into this world.
"What's more, this trade wouldn't be my first choice if there were other well-paid jobs available. Trust me, if teachers earned the same as sex traders, I would not hesitate to change my clientele from adults to the under aged."
With this attitude, who would have thought that she would have landed – where she ultimately lands.
Julia has never been portrayed as the weak, brainless character. She always knew where she was going and what she was doing. Yet some of the incidents she lands into, I keep on wondering as a woman, how she could not have seen it. How could she not understand that she was going to land up in danger or she was being cheated? Some of those moments are very heart-wrenching.
For the Bold
As I have already said, this book is not for those who are not comfortable with explicit sex scenes. But if you can wade through that you will find a story full of courage, coming of age and most of all f understand what happens when a person is unable to differentiate between the right and the wrong how members of the family stick together to support and guide the person towards light. The role the sisters played in Julia's life left me stunned Were they for real? Guiding her towards sex-trade and then bringing her out of it. It left me amazed at the bonding the sisters had.
If it has to be based on morality I would have given it a one star. The girls were not pushed .. they made a choice. But this is a story which was told with a lot of elan and boldness and as a writer I can appreciate that. But some details were unnecessary. They made me want to throw up. Was it really needed .. not once but twice? Was it done for the effect to shock the reader? I understand the pain.. but it was a choice made by Julia.. so can I as a reader also have the same choice. Not read those puking parts? It was suddenly slammed on my face and believe me I had some tough time even to eat that day. Not fair on me.
Would I recommend it:
For those who have not read this kind of book, I would suggest stay away since there are some very puking moments in this one. But If you want to read about a real life story of a sex trade worker and anyone really can tell you a tale as it is then only it can be one who has seen it all. It takes guts and courage and as a reader I can respect that. As a woman all I can say is this book will give you some food for thought - to appreciate your own life.
Line that stayed with me...
"I guess now I know that there is only one thing that can be worse than death, and that is to wait for it – the absolute certainty that your life is over while you're still breathing."