This is a memoir of Somaly Mam, born in Cambodia, in a small village to parents unknown to her, she was left in the care of a maternal grandmother and then a man who claimed to be her grandfather took her away from the village to go live with him in another village, a village he said was her unknown father’s ancestral village but he abused her daily and kept her as a slave.
In spite of the abuse, Somaly found refuge in the village’s school teacher who tells her that he is her father’s brother, making him her uncle. He was the one who gave Somaly her name, as she had no idea what her real name was and gave her the surname Mam, which is his and respected her and treated her as part of his family.
By the time she was twelve years old, her grandfather sent her to be raped by a shop owner to pay off his debts. Then at fourteen, her grandfather marries her off to an abusive and violent soldier. Then when the soldier disappears, her grandfather sold her a brothel. At first Somaly physically fought the lady running the brothel, the bodyguards and her rapists for survival but soon learn that she needed to be submissive to survive her ordeal. She was traded in between brothels for about 10 years and endured unspeakable acts of brutality and the horrific things she would witness would haunt her for the rest of her life.
She eventually managed to escape by this time she was in her twenties. She then became a leader fighting against human trafficking, rescuing girls working as sex slaves as young as five years old. She opened up a shelter offering these girls rehabilitation, healing and teaching them new skills to change their lives.
This is the reason why Somaly wrote her book. In her words: “it will stop me from having to tell my story over and over again, because repeating it is very difficult.” In it are people, places, memories that she “never want[s] to have to talk about … again … it makes me vomit.” And yet because “one day I may no longer be here … I want everyone to know what is happening to the women of Cambodia.”
Somaly’s ordeal was very horrific this book was beautiful written. It was really moving and maybe my review is not giving her story any justice but I want you to read this book and go through Somaly’s experience because I don’t think I would be able to explain the way Somaly tells us her story.
I highly recommend this novel. If you have read it, let me know what you felt reading this novel.
Thank you for reading xxx