Critical Evaluation: The book is written in a fairly simple style that reflects Shyima’s education. She admits in the story to having some trouble writing due to how late in life she learned to write. So while she did have a coauthor I believe this simple straight forward style reflects her own writing style. The story goes through the events of Shyima’s life, in the beginning some of the details are pretty sparse as the years of abuse and malnutrition have affected her ability to remember her early life. The story gets more detailed as it progresses and Shyima uses details from the court case to fill in details she did not know like how she was smuggled into the US. Shyima did not speak English so she did not know that the man who smuggled her into the US claimed to have adopted her and that he was taking her to Disneyland. The greatest strength of the book would be Shyima’s description of how she gained the self-confidence to stand up to the family that kept her as a slave and got her education. Overall the story is very simple but very inspiring.
Reader’s Annotation: When Shyima was eight years old her parents sold her into slavery, she was later rescued in the United States.
Author Information: Shyima Hall co-wrote this book about her experiences as a child slave. She was born in Egypt and smuggled into the United States by the family that bought her. She was later rescued and became a United States citizen. She hopes to become involved in law enforcement and become an immigration agent to help people.
Curriculum Ties: This book can be used for school reports on an inspiring individual or to research human trafficking.
Booktalk Ideas: 1) Why was Shyima so afraid when she was first rescued?
2) Do you think she should have allowed herself to be adopted by her last foster family?
Reading Level & Interest Level: This book is listed as being for readers age 14 and up which seems appropriate. The writing style of the book is pretty simple so some mature younger readers may also enjoy it but due to the serious subject matter i think there will be more interest from older readers.
Challenge Issues: The book does depict physical and mental abuse. However the book does not graphically describe the physical abuse. The book has also won three awards including the Eureka Nonfiction Gold Award.
Why is it included?: I think this is an interesting book for teens as it shows a life drastically different from what most readers have ever experienced. This book can also be used for school either for a report on a person or to learn about human trafficking.