Zoe is the absolute definition of a person who the system failed. In her recounting of her life, she shares her normal as a young child: neglect, abuse and emotional trauma. By the time she reaches her teen years, she’s ready for a positive change in her life and reports her parents to the social services. At this point, I’m hoping this story picks up and this is a better time for Zoe, that she starts her time in foster care with what she is seeking from a foster family, love and acceptance. Nope. This is where I learn about homes for children. This clashes against my understanding of the foster care system, a family or person who takes in those in need. Denver House proves to be a new kind of hell for Zoe. She learns of the danger of other girls who are threatening but friendly. These girls turn out to be mini pimps who use the younger girls as a way to satisfy their pimp and make money. Zoe is taken to flop houses, raped repeatedly and is ignored when she reports the incidents. Her self-esteem plummets as she’s constantly rejected by society and her family while she’s being blamed for being trafficked. Undoubtedly, her addiction issues are not surprising to the reader. However, the recounting of the whys and hows certainly provides more perspective into an addict’s life. As she moves into adulthood, it is astonishing how little the system does to improve her opportunities for success. Zoe is challenged to learn all the life skills and survival techniques that most adults are taught in their adolescent years. I feel for her in these moments, being that far behind and wanting to catch up is an incredibly daunting task.
Overall, Trafficked Girl was a book that I had to read in bits. It is graphic, gut wrenching and the traverse of Zoe’s journey is frustrating and saddening. The story ends with a touch of pride. This young woman has built up resilience in incredible circumstances and has taken the time to explore that past so that her future can be a journey influenced by her foundation but not ruled by it.