A Walk Across the Sun, by Corban Addison, is fiction, but the underlying facts are real—and heartbreaking. The story follows two teenaged Indian sisters living near the beach south of Chennai. As the book begins, it’s December 26, 2004—the morning after Christmas—the last morning of life as they know it. The family had felt the earthquake the night before but, as no damage was done, it was soon forgotten. And then the waves come. Only the sisters survive. Soaked and bleeding, they stumble home only to discover the bodies of their beloved family. Their home has been destroyed, and with no food or water, they realize they cannot stay where they are.
In an effort to reach Chennai and the safety of the boarding school they attend, they accept a ride with a family friend. But instead of arriving at the school, they end up captives in a Chennai slum. From there, they are sold to a series of cruel men and women.
The sisters are eventually separated and between them their experiences intersect every aspect of human trafficking. From forced prostitution to drug smuggling to pornography to modern-day slavery, the reader is taken deep into an underworld that spans the globe.
Meanwhile, a highly ambitious attorney is mourning the death of his infant daughter and reeling from the breakup of his marriage. Made the scapegoat for a failed lawsuit, he’s offered the chance to take a paid sabbatical to do pro bono work somewhere far, far from Washington, D.C. He opts for an NGO in Bombay (Mumbai)—an organization that rescues underage girls from the city’s lucrative sex trade. There, he crosses tracks with the sisters, and becomes driven to rescue them.
This isn’t a book to make you feel good. It’s a book that motivates you to do good. While the author avoids graphic descriptions, it takes no effort on the part of the reader to fill in the gaps.
I’ve previously written about a similar book—Scared, by Tom Davis. (He also wrote Priceless, a book about trafficking, which I highly recommend.) This is another book along the same vein—a fictionalized story about a very real issue.
Unlike Davis’s books, this story isn’t overtly Christian, although the protagonist is a back-slidden Catholic. At one point he wanders into a cathedral and prays, and God eventually answers. On the other hand, one of the sisters often prays to her monkey idol, and he seems to answer as well.
The point of this book is clear—trafficking is real, it’s destroying lives, and we need to do something. Thankfully, Addison doesn’t leave us hanging. In a special section at the back of the book there are practical ways to get involved. A list of websites providing facts and figures—and true stories—leaves the reader with no doubt that things really are this bad.
Here is Addison’s list of websites. Please note that I have not vetted any of these organizations.
- International Justice Mission: www.ijm.org
- U.S. Dept. of State Trafficking in Persons Report: www.state.gov/g/tip
- Polaris Project: www.polarisproject.org
- Shared Hope International: www.sharedhope.org
- Fondation Scelles: www.fondationscelles.org
- CNN’s Freedom Project blog: thecnnfreedomproject.blogs.cnn.com