A Walk Across the Sun by Corban Addison
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Luckily, this is less harrowing a read than McCormick's Sold, but it's still a disturbing read. The three stories intertwine in a way that leaves the reader with hope - hope tinged with sadness.
The first story is actually two-in-one: Ahalya and Sita, sisters in a comfortably well-off family near Chennai (Madras to us oldies), being educated at a convent school, whose lives are completely destroyed by the tsunami that hit India's coast following the Indonesian earthquake in 2004. Their home destroyed, their parents and servant dead, they try to get to their school and safety, only to be kidnapped and sold into Mumbai's brothels. After several months, they are split up, with Ahalya staying in the brothel and Sita being sold to a drug courier and on into virtual slavery and then into the European/American brothel/pornography system. The second (or third) story is that of Thomas, a DC lawyer whose marriage has fallen apart under the twin pressures of his daughter's SIDS death and his work on a major lawsuit. After his wife returns to her native India, he is lost until one of the lead partners tells him to take either a year's sabbatical or a long vacation (he's the scapegoat for the case being lost). He takes the sabbatical to work in India, at an NGO trying to shut down the underage brothels.
It is there that the three stories intersect. Thomas' involvement with the two girls, and trying to rescue them, is at first incidental but becomes a real turning point in his decisions about his future. It also leads him back to Priya, his wife. While that radical a change might seem unlikely, I think it's not too farfetched - often people choose careers for the wrong reasons, but if they get the opportunity to change to something they love, it can also change the way in which they relate to others. While horrific things happen to (and around) Ahalya and Sita, they seem remarkably untouched by them, and that felt a little unrealistic to me.
ARC provided by publisher.