Prayers for the Stolen by Jennifer Clement

Being a girl in Mexico is dangerous. Being a pretty girl is even worse. Mothers go to great lengths to make their daughters look ugly all in an attempt to stop them being stolen.Prayers for the Stolen

The stolen girls are sold into prostitution and many are never seen or heard from again.

For Ladydi Garcia Martínez life in Guerrero, Mexico is hard. Like most of the other girls in her town, Ladydi grows up pretending she’s a boy. When that becomes too difficult drastic action is taken: blackening lips and teeth, rubbing charcoal across faces, even losing teeth. If Ladydi’s going to survive she has to be an ugly girl.

With most of the men leaving Guerrero to find opportunities in America, the women are very much on their own, trying to protect each other from being stolen at gunpoint and sold into slavery.

Clement’s Prayers for the Stolen is one of the best books I’ve read for a long time. It’s a story of tragedy, but also of friendship, family and hope. The poetic language and touches of humour are excellent in highlighting not only the tragedy, but also the resilience and determination of the women.

Although Ladydi and her story are fictional, the events in the book have been inspired by truth. The struggles of women in rural Mexico are very real. It’s this factual element which makes the novel have such an impact on the reader. It’s hard to believe what young women like Ladydi have to endure.

The trafficking of young girls into prostitution by Mexican drug cartels is a huge issue. In an interview discussing the writing of her novel, Clement says that according to the U.S. State Department, 600,000 to 800,000 people are trafficked across international borders every year.

Clement spent more than ten years listening to women affected by the violence of Mexico’s drug culture. It follows her novel, A True Story Based on Lies, which is about the mistreatment of servants in Mexico. I’ve not read this book yet, but I will.

Clement is an excellent writer who is highlighting how lives and communities have been destroyed as a result of drugs and trafficking.

Please read it, and let me know your thoughts.

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