Little Peach by Peggy Kern
Publication: March 10th 2015 by Balzer + Bray
Number of Pages: 208
Genre: YA, Realistic Fiction, Urban Fiction
Source: School library (I think)
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.
– Highlight to read spoilers –
I think I’ve developed a resistance to any and all shocking aspects of any topic (I blame fanfiction). I’ve just been so desensitized that a lot of stuff just doesn’t phase me, anymore. Well, actually, I take my statement back. I think super descriptive gore still disgusts me.
I found that the story itself was very simplistic. The writing and events are very straightforward, the depiction of the situation is black and white. But I don’t mean that in a bad way. I liked that the story wasn’t bogged down by a complex plot. It helped communicate the overall message in a way that was crystal clear. And for a book with sensitive topics, it was especially good. Nothing was censored or ambiguously communicated. I liked that a lot.
One of the strengths of the novel was definitely the portrayal of the characters. Kern writes these characters in such a complex way. We can see each level of complexity of every character and its clear to see why Michelle navigates her world in such a confused manner. For instance, Devon, the man that brings Michelle into sex trafficking, would have been so easy to write as a cliche, mysterious, bullying man. Instead, Devon is written to be very charming. He’s written as a very charismatic and disarming person and it’s so easy to see how Michelle would have fallen for his act. In her position, I would have fallen for it! But as the story progresses, we get to see each individual layer of Devon’s personality that is slowly revealed to Michelle. It continues until we get to the end and learn that as charming as he is, he’s honestly a dick. Another example is Michelle’s mom. I won’t reveal any details due to spoilers but her portrayal is extremely well done.
Even better was the portrayal of Kat and Baby, the other two females that were enslaved by Devon. Kat is quite possibly my favorite character of the three and her protective, big-sister personality really shined through. The backstories of both Kat and Baby were heartbreaking but only added an extra layer to these characters. But what was one of the best things about the book is that Kat, Baby, and Michelle were each so unique and different in their personalities, decisions, and endings. The novel gets a hundred thousand points for how realistic the characters and plot are. I don’t want to reveal too much lest I spoil it but I absolutely loved these characters. A somewhat spoilery thing I want to commend is how Kern portrays three different “fates”. Kat, Baby, and Michelle each had a completely different ending. Kat dies, Baby remains in prostitution, and Michelle escapes. Three different possible results of prostitution and incredibly realistic.
The plot itself was told in a before-during-after format. It opens with Michelle waking up in a hospital and continues with alternating scenes of her life before, during, and after her experience in child prostitution. The way in which Michelle slowly realizes the details and truth of her situation is gradual and ultimately, tragic.
I especially like how the sex scenes were written. They were not gratuitous or explicit but instead written in a clean, elegant, but strikingly distinctive way. Instead of being mainly focused on how awful it was to be involved in child prostitution or the physical pains of the situation, it focused on Michelle mentally and emotionally. We all know the basic gist of sex, but to me, reading about Michelle’s mental and emotional state while it happened was just so much darker and impactful than just reading a recount of the physical interactions would have been.
In the end, the book itself is impactful. It has a solid message and writes about a touchy topic in a way that makes one realize that it’s something that is an actual issue. And if anything, it opened my eyes and made me realize that even my state, Kentucky, has a huge sex trafficking issue, just like many other places in the world do.
It’s a gripping novel. It’s not a book you will enjoy and it’s very hard to relate to the characters. Readers probably won’t connect with the characters, but instead with the message and their journeys. I highly recommend reading this novel simply because of how much of an impact it has for such a small book. In about 200 pages, it attempts to raise awareness about the issues about sex trafficking and in my opinion, succeeds.
I love tough-issue and urban street books and Little Peach most definitely fits into that topic.
To be honest, I finished this book last year and wrote about it for an English assignment. Filled up the entire front and back page writing about how much I loved it. so needless to say, even if I didn’t connect too much to Michelle, everything else more than made up for it.