TAT Book Review—Nobody’s Girl
Nobody’s Girl: A Memoir of Lost Innocence, Modern-Day Slavery and Transformation by:Barbara Amaya
Review by TAT deputy director Kylla Lanier
I read this book on a 2-hour flight to Denver, and I was mesmerized. I couldn’t put it down. I was transported into the world that Barbara Amaya lived in from childhood through adulthood. Her vivid account of being sexually abused as a young girl, running away repeatedly as a pre-teen, being trafficked as an adolescent, and then making her way in the world without knowing what she had experienced — and not making the connection between so many of the later traumas and depressions and her exploitation until much later in life — was shocking and heartbreaking.
In sharing her story, she helps the reader understand how childhood sexual abuse changes the person … changes how they see themselves, changes their sense of safety and self, changes how they see their family, and how those things impact future choices and makes one vulnerable to those seeking to exploit.
Nobody’s Girl is deeply personal, yet profoundly relatable. Barbara is able to talk honestly about her trafficker and even some of the buyers who paid for her exploitation. She details the humanity and vulnerability that they possessed, while never excusing the evil harm they did to her and others. She is able to see them as human, which is both uncomfortable for the reader and enlightening.
After she leaves her trafficking situation, Nobody’s Girl takes you on a trip through an abusive marriage, depression, the birth of her daughter, starting over, and a lingering criminal record … highs and lows on the pathway to true healing.
And then you read when she makes the connection that what happened to her was indeed exploitation and abuse … that she is a survivor of sex trafficking (and you are privileged to walk with her through that realization). You read about the vacating of her criminal record, her advocacy work, the sharing of her story, the strengthening of her mother/daughter relationship, overcoming so much in order to help so many others.
This is an extremely fast read, because it’s so easy to be absorbed into Barbara’s writing and experience. I highly recommend this book if you want a survivor’s firsthand account or if you want to understand how someone is almost set up to be trafficked. While certainly not universal, Barbara’s story illustrates a common path that trafficking victims often are forced to walk.
Nobody’s Girl is riveting, poignant and ultimately triumphant. Buy the book, read it and share it with a friend. You’ll find that it is worth it!