Publication Date: 04/28/2011
Publisher: The Writer's Coffee Shop Publishing House
Mistakes...Maddy Turner, having been raised in a middle class family, attends a wealthy private Texas high school thanks to her mother being a teacher there. Surrounded by debutante balls and designer clothing, Maddy exists in a world that she thinks she'll never understand. Niggling inside her is a small piece that wants to be swept away just for one night, to not have to worry about finances or having to be the perfect student in order to get a college scholarship. That is, until a series of circumstances lands her in a place darker than she could have imagined.
Everyone makes them. We are only human.
Some of our mistakes are small... like the times you stay up till 2 am studying for a test that you end up failing because you are too tired to think.
Others are so catastrophic that they change your life - forever.
Maddison regrets not listening to her parents, not being a 'good girl' and not staying at home like she was supposed to instead of sneaking off with her friends for a Spring Break getaway. How she wishes she could turn back time; then maybe she wouldn't be in the nightmare she is in now. Kidnapped and taken to a different country unaware of where she is or what these men want with her. Maddy's parents can't help her, in fact they aren't even aware she is in Mexico. Who can save her? Or can she save herself?
As a human rights student particularly interested in human trafficking the existence of this book does a lot for me on a multitude of levels and is something I feel strongly about. This is not, nor will it ever be, an easy subject. Yet it exists and it happens a lot closer to home than you might expect. Maddy is not a vapid girl. She's an honor student, tutors fellow students, and participates in extracurricular activities. But she is a teenager and she is vulnerable, and at times, confused. Although her best friend, Aimee, is a part of the elite circle of her school, Maddy is always on the outside on some level. So when Aimee invites her to her first debutante ball to get a glimpse of what they're like, Maddy jumps at the chance. This is a typical reaction for someone; people are curious beings - we want to explore the unknown and we want to be included. Maddy's always dreamt of a Cinderella story of her own, and when she finally gets it following the events of the ball, she no longer wants it.
Something I liked the most about this book is the way it was written. It had a slight awkwardness and uncertainty about it, not from the authors but from the fact that the main character is a teenage girl. The words exuded descriptions and reactions that I would expect from someone her age and that made the story flow much more easily for me. When she meets Jack she's literally overwhelmed with the idea that someone could be interested in her, however I believe that she would have eventually worked things out for herself. The other half of my appreciating the realism, however, is that there were some moments that had me questioning how things would unfold. As a reader and a reviewer I'm not in a position to be judging how people would react during captivity, especially if the person in question were being sexually abused while held. I've studied the effects of solitary torture, but nothing like Maddy's situation.
While in confinement Maddy meets a prisoner, Dalton, being held for ransom. They share a cell as a form of coercion: if Maddy misbehaves Dalton will be punished and vice versa. In order to stay sane they tell each other stories about themselves, their family and friends - anything to remain themselves. Over the course of their confinement they become friends and eventually form a relationship. The issue here isn't completely over age (she is 18, Dalton is 27), although that is a factor. It's also over the healthiness of the situation and the way it's framed. For me, while I was okay with the idea of Dalton, some of his words reminded me like something that Jack might have said. There wasn't enough of a delineation between their speech ("my sweet Maddy") and that threw me off. It was important to me that Maddy be able to differentiate between the two of them, and not just want a replacement, and while I don't think she's quite there yet, she's on the right path.
Mistakes is a fast-paced, realistic story that spotlights the real dangers of human trafficking. Reading this made me not just invested in the characters, but also invested in them as people. I cringed and cried and was angry because while this is fiction, it's very much not. This is a hard story to read. It may not be perfect, but a lot of good things aren't, and it's absolutely worth the read. As a note, I don't usually issue warnings, but for parents this is a story that involves sexual abuse and real world issues. A quick, impacting read that's left me waiting to know the fates of those involved.
An aside: If you are looking to find out more information about this topic please check out Half the Sky by Nicholas Kristof & Sheryl WuDunn and the International Justice Mission.
This post is a part of the TWCS YA Blog tour! Check out their website to see other books, guest posts, and reviews featured on the tour.