by Scott Bergstrom
(Feiwel & Friends; $18.99, Ages 14 and up)
Initially, seventeen-year-old Gwendolyn Bloom’s worst things in life include being bullied by rich girls at her “diplobrats” school and aching from the tenth anniversary of her mother’s brutal death. Gwendolyn’s worldview is soon upended when her father’s kidnapping propels her to action.
With the help of friends (including a blossoming first love), Gwendolyn escapes to Paris in pursuit of her first lead. She discovers that cruelty has no borders as she travels through the underbellies of France, Germany, and the Czech Republic. Surviving in the shadows using intrigue and deception, Gwendolyn perseveres.
The Cruelty by Scott Bergstrom is a fast-paced read; with each chapter, Gwendolyn grows more deeply involved in gambling, arms smuggling, and human trafficking. She sacrifices everything in the hope of freeing her father—then finds bigger causes to fight for.
While this modern-day spy book exemplifies female strength and independence, the life of this spy is rarely glamorous. The title tells all: cruelty rules. Opting for activism means becoming tougher and craftier than her enemies. Gwendolyn learns there’s no going back from these irreversible choices.
Find Scott Bergstrom’s website here.
The Cruelty is available on February 7, 2017. Book two, The Greed, is scheduled for release next year.
- Reviewed by Christine Van Zandt
Writer, editor, and owner of Write for Success www.Write-for-Success.com
April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month so we are sharing an important book to bring the message home. Breaking Free is a well-written compilation of three stories about three very different women from very different places with the same traumatic experience. Writer and performer Abby Sher actually tells each woman’s tale in beautifully detailed descriptive narrative that compelled me to read on.
Sher clearly has the best of intentions for relaying these stories and I am grateful. In Breaking Free: True Stories of Girls Who Escaped Modern Slavery, we learn about how these women kept hope alive even in the darkest of times, when they were sold for sex even as children, one by her own parents. When they were children, these women were treated like property and their innocence was stolen from them, yet they were able to survive and persevere. This is not just a story of human trafficking, but a story of identity, tragedy, and redemption. Ultimately, these girls found freedom in education in one way or another, and they gained the most freedom by learning to speak out loud about their experiences and share their stories. But they do not share their stories for fame or recognition. They share in order to both set the record straight about what human trafficking is, and to help other victims cope with their ordeals. Now these women spend their lives supporting this cause so that trafficking ends forever.
Heroes come in many forms. While they may only see themselves as humans, these survivors are, in fact, heroes. I found I couldn’t put the book down. Even though their stories were horrifying, they were fascinating and thought provoking as well. I even felt I owed it to these women to listen to them, as they had finally found a voice. I also wanted to read on to know they had found freedom, safety, and the love they deserved, that any of us deserve. Human trafficking is an oxymoron, because victims are hardly treated like humans. It’s a crime against humanity, and this book pays homage to the women who survived it and have become tireless advocates as they try to make a difference for others not as fortunate.
Please read an important note from the author here.
– Reviewed by Krista Jefferies