Published on: July 7th 2015
Published by: Entangled Teen
Genre: YA Contemporary
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(summary from Goodreads)
The best place to hide is in a lie…
I could never fit in to the life my parents demanded. By the time I was thirteen, it was too much. I ran away to New York City…and found a nightmare that lasted three years. A nightmare that began and ended with a pimp named Luis. Now I am Dirty Anna. Broken, like everything inside me has gone bad.
Except that for the first time, I have a chance to start over. Not just with my parents but at school. Still, the rumors follow me everywhere. Down the hall. In classes. And the only hope I can see is in the wide, brightly lit smile of Jackson, the boy next door. So I lie to him. I lie to protect him from my past. I lie so that I don’t have to be The Girl Who Went Bad.
The only problem is that someone in my school knows about New York.
Someone knows who I really am.
And it’s just a matter of time before the real Anna is exposed…
I have never read a book themed around Prostitution, as especially never about a thirteen year old prostitute. But this book called to me, and as soon as I read the description I knew I needed to read it. The other thing that pulled me towards this book was the cover, which although simple is beautifully powerful and reminds me so much of the covers for Fading, Freeing and Falling.
It wasn’t an easy read. It was dark and raw and covers pretty much every scary topic that we prefer not to think about in our day to day lives: rape, drugs, prostitution, teenage runaways. It was a powerful mix that made for some emotional reading and kept me hooked right from page one to long after I had finished. The whole story was handled so delicately that although the seriousness of the topic could make it a very intense read, at no point was I put off and wanted to stop.
“All that matters is me and this sweet boy who thinks I’m beautiful.”
I have never read about a character like Anna before and I found myself feeling so much for her. Running away from home and a verbally and physically abusive father was meant to be her new start but instead led her to a life that no one, especially not someone so young should ever see. It was her nativity that led her into a horror that she in no way deserved to experience.
Her state of mind was perfect for a sixteen year old girl who had lived Anna’s life. She had a vulnerability that no matter how much she tried to hide it shone through for those who cares about her to see. Watching her struggle to adapt back to suburbia and especially high school was heartbreaking to watch. High school can be bad enough without the taunts and the bullying that Anna was made to suffer. Plus the addition of her flashbacks/panic attacks just tore at my heart and I longed to reach into the book and give her a hug.
Anna’s development was one of my favourite parts of this book as she went from a scared and self loathing girl into a young woman who was able to accept herself and gain the confidence to admit the truth. This book was all about love and Anna’s biggest hurdle to overcome was allowing herself to love those important few in her life and to accept their love in return.
“I’m not the damsel in distress. I’m the villain. It’s only a matter of time before he realizes this.”
A prostitutes relationship with her pimp is a complex thing. I mean, they should hate them, but when you think about it from their POV their Pimp is their security, the person who keeps them from homelessness and in the case of Anna and Luis the one person they know (or at least think they know) loves them. Throughout this book we get two different perspectives of Luis: our own and Anna’s. To us, Luis is the guy who made an underage runaway have sex with other men for money. To Anna, he is the man who saved her when she first arrived in New York, the man who keeps her safe and the man who loves her.
I felt that Anna’s perspective slightly affected my own and trying to see him through her eyes caused me to be conflicted. Anna was grateful to him and everything he had done for her, she loved him and constantly reading about ‘Luis the Saviour’ made me hate him a little less. And then I felt totally wrong that I was starting to sympathise with such a cruel and evil man. And it was right there that Trombley’s talent showed. She gave us just the smallest of tastes of the mental manipulation that Anna had suffered all those years and in helped us to understand just a little bit how Anna, and many real life prostitutes, are able to feel for and even love their pimps.
“When I feel myself slipping to the darkness of my past, I’ll close my eyes and remember this. Remember Jackson.”
I can’t write a review about this book without mentioning Jackson, the one shining star in Anna’s life. He’s kind and caring and seems to accept her no matter what the rumors say about her, because they are just rumors right? We know right from the beginning and that first lie that Anna tells him that he is going to find out the truth eventually, so we watch them growing closer, waiting for the inevitable to happen and hoping that when it does their feelings for each other will be strong enough to keep them together.
“You only have to be told once that you don’t always have a choice before you realize the truth. You’ll never have as much power as you thought you had. Not over yourself. Not over your destiny. Not at all.”
And lastly I have to talk about Anna’s parents because they are a big part of this book and of Anna’s story. It’s always sad to read about domestic violence, and in this book it’s not just the physical abuse but also the mental. Emotionally wearing down a person until they feel totally worthless, a disappointment and just have no confidence in themselves. This is what Anna and her mother suffer through, this is what Anna escaped, but now this is what she has been dropped back into. However this time she is an ex-prostitute, dirty and even more of a disappointment of a daughter.
I really found myself warming to Anna’s mother in this book. She’s a victim, a silent and obedient one, but through the book we start to see her develop into a woman who realises her part in her daughters disappearance and tries to make up for that by supporting Anna and standing up to her husband. There is nothing more inspiring then seeing an abuse victim stand up to her abuser, and this book was no different and I really liked that the woman I started the book hating grew to be one of the more liked and important characters in the book.
T I feel like I haven’t even been able to touch on all the things that make this book great, but I feel like writing a 10,000 word review would only put people off. So take my word for it, it is dark, and raw, intense and at times so emotional. It will break your heart and at times it may be hard to read, but if you start it then you will most definitely finish it. Not because you have to, but because you will need to.
I would recommend this book to fans of: YA Contemporary, Healing stories, books about teenage runaways, books that feature serious/hard to read topics