Saturday, April 16, 2011

Book Review - Girls Like Us: Fighting for a World Where Girls Are Not for Sale, an Activist Finds Her Calling and Heals Herself by Rachel Lloyd

Title: Girls Like Us: Fighting for a World Where Girls Are Not for Sale, an Activist Finds Her Calling and Heals Herself
Author: Rachel Lloyd
Year: 2011
Page: 288
Genre: Non-fiction - Memoir

FTC Disclosure: A free advanced reader copy from HarperCollins in exchange for an unbiased review

Summary (from
At thirteen, Rachel Lloyd found herself caught up in a world of pain and abuse, struggling to survive as a child with no responsible adults to support her. Vulnerable yet tough, she eventually ended up a victim of commercial sexual exploitation. It took time and incredible resilience, but ?nally, with the help of a local church community, she broke free of her pimp and her past.

Three years later, Lloyd arrived in the United States to work with adult women in the sex industry and soon founded her own nonprofit—GEMS, Girls Educational and Mentoring Services—to meet the needs of other girls with her history. She also earned her GED and won full scholarships to college and a graduate program. Today Lloyd is executive director of GEMS in New York City and has turned it into one of the nation's most groundbreaking nonprofit organizations.

In Girls Like Us, Lloyd reveals the dark, secretive world of her past in stunning cinematic detail. And, with great humanity, she lovingly shares the stories of the girls whose lives she has helped—small victories that have healed her wounds and made her whole. Revelatory, authentic, and brave, Girls Like Us is an unforgettable memoir.

First Sentence:
She likes swimming, SpongeBob, Mexican food, writing poetry, getting her nails painted (light pink is her favorite color), and Harry Potter books (plus she thinks Daniel Radcliffee is "fine").

My Thoughts:

Why this book?
  • I liked reading memoir, and I liked reading about certain social issues. This book sounded inspiring - the author overcame her past to start the non-profit GEMS, Girls Educational and Mentoring Service, so I wanted to learn more about her.
First thought:
  • Different to what I expected.
Cover Art:
  • Okay. Not very eye-catching. I understood the intent of using images of different girls on the cover, but it does not have much impact on me. Perhaps if all photos were in black and white? Not sure if I like the mixture of color chosen.
  • I felt "Girls Like Us" fitted the book well, but the long subtitle was a mouthful.
  • Okay, didn't find it as engaging as others
  • I thought this was a memoir. It was more like part memoir, part sociology, part stories of the other girls instead. 
  • The different chapters jumped all over the place and not written in a chronological order which made it a bit confusing at times. The author's own story about her past didn't come until much later. I wish it focused more on Rachel's story since this was supposed to be a memoir. Not saying the other girls' stories or the statistics quoted were not worth reading or valid, but if that was the main focus of the book, then it should not be written or advertised as a memoir. I think the book would deliver a stronger message if it had a better focus - a real memoir, or a "case study" of different girls, instead of a combination
  • There were definitely some heartbreaking stories in the book and made you wonder why some people havd kids if they were not going to take care of their children. There were many stories though and at times it got a bit repetitive (sad but true that a lot of the stories ended up having the same theme) and you lost track of all the different girls mentioned
  • Because of all the other going-on in the book, I didn't think we got to know the author as much as we could have, compared to other memoirs. I wish she would have elaborated more about her story, and especially the part about how she started her non-profit and how she made it successful - there could have been lots of lessons learned there for others who wished to do something similar
  • I read this a couple of weeks ago and didn't really remember the ending - so I guess nothing too unexpected or disappointing.
  • While some stories were a bit depressing to read, I thought I'd be a bit more emotional when I read this book.
What I Learned:
  • The author stressed not to use the term "prostitution" (especially when it came to underage girls) but use commercial sexual exploitation and trafficking instead. 
  • Important message, but could have been executed better
Read this Author again?
  • Maybe. Depends on the topic.

I tell Tiana, that you've never seen a cow, never even seen a picture of one or had one described to you, and someone tells you that a horse is a cow. Of course you'll believe them. If you haven't had proper love and care, then a substitute will feel like the real thing, because you've got nothing to compare it to. (p58-59)

Overall Rating:
3.5 Stars. Important issue but could be delivered better

All reviews and posts are copyrighted by Christa @ Mental Foodie. Please do not use or reprint them without written permission.

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