2017 Winner of the Wishing Shelf Book Awards.
While walking in her native Moldova, Marina Dobrin, a young computer programmer, is kidnapped by two men from a vicious human trafficking ring. She is forced to endure a horrific ocean voyage with other kidnapped women, all brutalized and fearful for their lives. Once they reach land, Marina escapes and finds herself in suburban New Jersey. Starving, exhausted, and terrified, she trusts no one and has nowhere to hide until she encounters Adam, a young autistic man. Adam and his father Bruce befriend her and she finds a brief refuge from the traffickers. But they are relentlessly hunting her down. With the help of her rescuers, will Marina be able to elude her kidnappers and bring them to justice or will she be captured and killed along with the heroic father and son? The clock is ticking and danger lurks everywhere.
Targeted Age Group:: 16-Adult
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
I have a loved one with autism and found it therapeutic to write a story about a family dealing with a member with autism. I saw the movie Taken, which was about human trafficking. I had never heard of human trafficking in modern times and the movie left me traumatized and I don't even have a daughter. I wanted to write a story to bring more awareness to this horrific crime.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
Since I know families who have a member with autism face many challenges and stresses, I wanted to create an extreme situation for my novel: a widower who works full-time and has to care for his 18-year-old son with autism alone. The movie Taken was about an Eastern European trafficking ring. I read that Moldova has the highest rate of human trafficking in Europe, so I created a character that was kidnapped from her native Moldova.
Marina tried to open her eyelids but could not muster the energy. They will find me!
As she struggled to awaken, she gaped at the unfamiliar terrain. She was lost. Her stomach growling with excruciating hunger, Marina remembered the hard candy. On the morning before she escaped, she had not been able to will herself to get up from her hard bed, and another girl, pitying her and realizing she would get punched if she refused to get up, slipped her a piece of wrapped hard candy. Marina searched the recesses of her memory, trying to remember where she had set it down. Was it lying near her bed? No, she’d never taken it out of her pocket. Now she remembered: it was in a front pocket of her jeans! She lifted her limp right hand to feel her pockets. Her empty stomach screaming, she reached her right pocket: nothing. Marina cursed under her breath. Now she would have to move her stiff arm over to the other pocket.
As her eyes became more focused, she noticed cuts on her hand, most likely from collapsing on branches. She pushed her arm to continue moving. She felt her left pocket and wanted to cry tears of joy; she felt the hard candy, and after a few tries, she finally lifted it out. The candy was grey. She couldn’t tell what flavor it was but she didn’t care. Making a concentrated effort to steady her shaking hand, Marina brought the candy slowly to her mouth, turning her head sideways so she wouldn’t swallow it whole and choke. The candy was sticky in its clear wrapper, so she carefully pulled it out of the wrapping with her teeth and popped it in her mouth. Its gummy substance stuck to her top front teeth, but to her, it was the most sumptuous food she had ever tasted. As she dislodged the candy, Marina managed to lift herself into a sitting position as she finished chewing, feeling a sudden spurt of energy from the candy’s sugar. While wishing she had some water to rinse her mouth, she turned and spotted a man sleeping against a nearby tree. Her body shook as if an electric current had run through her.
Was he there earlier?
She would have screamed if she had the energy. Unable to stand, Marina struggled to crawl away amid the branches and twigs. When she looked back at him, his head stirred and his arms moved.
When he opened his eyes, he shook his head in bewilderment and opened and shut his eyes. He spotted her and leaned forward to get a better view.
“Hi,” he said.
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