Published by Balzer + Bray on March 10th 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
What do you do if you're in trouble?
When Michelle runs away from her drug-addicted mother, she has just enough money to make it to New York City, where she hopes to move in with a friend. But once she arrives at the bustling Port Authority, she is confronted with the terrifying truth: she is alone and out of options.
Then she meets Devon, a good-looking, well-dressed guy who emerges from the crowd armed with a kind smile, a place for her to stay, and eyes that seem to understand exactly how she feels.
But Devon is not what he seems to be, and soon Michelle finds herself engulfed in the world of child prostitution where he becomes her “Daddy” and she his “Little Peach.” It is a world of impossible choices, where the line between love and abuse, captor and savior, is blurred beyond recognition.
This hauntingly vivid story illustrates the human spirit’s indomitable search for home, and one girl’s struggle to survive.
“Ain’t nobody comin’ to save you, girl. You wanna survive? You better start thinking for yourself.”
What a devastating and horrifying little novel this was. It’s a story that pulls you in immediately and doesn’t let you go until the end, even if you wish you could just look away.
Little Peach is my first fictional encounter with the topic of child prostitution (or prostitution in general) and I don’t think it could have been any better. The novel portrays Michelle’s journey with incredible rawness and honesty, yet it never feels like the author is trying to pull at your heartstrings. Everything is stated simply and Michelle’s voice seems very aloof and detached, which makes the entire book that much more powerful. Little Peach didn’t make me sad exactly; it made me outraged. Outraged that these things still happen and that we are pretty much powerless to do something against it. Outraged that we are either unaware of the issue or decide to look the other way.
The story follows Michelle who – at fourteen – runs away from home to get away from her drug-addicted mother and the groping hands of her mother’s boyfriend. She takes the first bus to New York where she hopes to find an old friend. Instead, she finds Devon – or rather, he finds her – a kind man who treats Michelle like his own daughter, giving her food, clothes and a new home. It seems Devon is the only thing keeping Michelle alive and healthy and she is eternally grateful to him. But things aren’t what they seem at first glance and Michelle finds herself caught up in the world of child prostitution where you are only worth as much as people are willing to pay for you. Michelle also meets Devon’s other girls called Kat and Baby and develops a sort of familial bond with them. Throughout the story Michelle still holds on to the dream of a better life after Devon has made enough money; a dream the reader knows will never come true.
Unsurprisingly, it’s a very dark and disturbing novel, as well as extremely realistic. There are no embellishments: Peggy Kern only includes what is absolutely essential and doesn’t try to make the story into anything more than an honest account of these girls’ lives. And that is more than enough.
What makes this novel even better, is the fact that Michelle, Kat and Baby aren’t just portrayed as victims. They are real people. They are all fully developed characters with their own desires and flaws. I really sympathized with all of them, could feel their desperation and fear.
So, why only four stars? In many ways, this is a five star book. It takes a heavy and difficult subject matter and handles it brilliantly. However, despite my appreciation for it, I didn’t love this novel. Maybe it was the style of the narration that hindered me at being fully immersed in the story. However, don’t let this dissuade you from picking it up: It is excellent and 100% worth the read.
I highly recommend this book to anyone. Just be aware that it is a very dark subject matter and at times difficult to read.