A Walk Across The Sun by Corban Addison
|A Walk Across The Sun by Corban Addison|
|Reviewer: Ani Johnson|
|Summary: The best summary for this gripping, courageous, thriller is on its own cover: A tsunami steals their family. Men steal their innocence. One man would save them.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 432||Date: February 2012|
|External links: Author's website|
In Chennai, India, 17-year-old Ahalya and her 15-year-old sister, Sita, watch as their family and entire world is swept away by the now infamous Christmas tsunami. In the aftermath, Ahalya knows that, if the sisters can get to their school in the city, they'll be safe. However, not everyone is to be trusted and their trip to safety turns into a drive towards a darker danger as the girls are kidnapped and sold to a trafficking network.
Meanwhile, in the US, ambition-driven lawyer Thomas Clarke is just managing to exist after the cot death of his daughter and the resulting disintegration of his marriage to Priya. When his firm offers him a year's sabbatical, his only pause for thought is in choosing the NGO. Having witnessed the kidnapping of a little girl in a local park, he decides to work for CASE, a charity dedicated to finding, returning and counselling kidnapped sex trade victims. Also, the charity happens to be based in Bombay – the city in which Priya now lives.
Any author who provides the whole plot on the cover of his first novel (albeit sardined into three sentences), is either particularly confident or particularly daft. In this case, my guess is that Corban Addison is the former. He has good cause to be as he has produced an accomplished, compelling thriller, drawing people towards a difficult, heartrending subject: the kidnap of young girls (many still children) by sex traffickers.
The author deals in reality, a fact that is not only evident in the subject matter. The hero himself, Thomas Clarke, is no knight in shining armour. When his baby dies, he plunges into his work for solace which, ironically enough, means defending a company charged with the corporate manslaughter of children. Once his wife leaves, he seeks a physical form of comfort from a colleague, who in turn suffers from his cowardly decision not to tell her he's going to Bombay to work for the NGO and try to make things up with his wife. When he gets to Bombay, he allows his wife to believe he wants to stay there to please her when in fact he's got the same goals as when they met – a seat on the Federal bench with his name on it. Not someone you'd want your sister to go out with. However, this is also a story of redemption as guilt is a big a driver as ambition. When a child puts her faith in him, Thomas knows he has to repay it.
Sex trafficking is obviously a highly emotive subject and Corban Addison is a man of passion, as you can tell by the notes at the end. However, he seems to have made a conscious decision to under-write the emotional aspect. There is no florid phrasing or long emoting paragraphs. Neither are there graphically-described brutal sex-scenes. There's no need. The story is related in an almost factual way, permitting the reader to use their own imagination and emotions. This works, and works powerfully, ensuring less is indeed more.
The fact that Addison includes several different forms of trafficking and abuse to give the reader a thorough overview didn't dawn on me till the end as it's so deftly executed. This stops being a news story between the takeaway being ordered and arriving. The personalities on the page make it more alive, more relevant. Please don't let the subject matter put you off. This is a fast-paced thriller of the first order so you will be entertained. However, you'll also learn. Surreptitiously you'll absorb information about the ease with which girls can be transported from country to country, aided in some countries by the blind eyes of a proportion of corrupt law enforcement. You'll hear how traffickers explain their 'occupation'; they're 'just' businessmen fulfilling a need and, their justification continues, therefore not the defilers. You will share the frustration when the traffickers seem to be one step ahead of the rescuers. You will see that not this is not a story with a Hollywood ending.
Talking of Hollywood, I'm sure that this will be a film for two reasons. First of all, it's very cinematic and secondly, Mr Addison seems a very determined man. Indeed, he understandably wants to bring knowledge of the traffickers' existence and methods to as many people as possible in order to support the real-life organisations operating in the same way as the fictional CASE. I'm sure that his courageous gamble will succeed. Success is deserved, not just to reward his bravery, but also the more extreme bravery of the families that wait, their loved ones who have been taken and those who walk across the sun in the hope of saving them.
If you enjoyed this book and would like to read another novel that brings another important topical subject to the fore, try Hinterland by Caroline Brothers. You might also appreciate Beautiful Thing: Inside the Secret World of Bombay's Dance Bars by Sonia Faleiro. We can also recommend Marty's Master by Suzanne Elizabeth Reed. We also have a review of The Garden of Burning Sand by Corban Addison.
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You can read more book reviews or buy A Walk Across The Sun by Corban Addison at Amazon.com.
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