Hannah has struggled ever since her parents were killed and her beloved uncle vanished. So when she's offered the chance to leave Moldova and become a nanny for a family in Los Angeles, it seems like a dream come true-and at first it is. But after weeks of working sixteen-hour days and not being able to leave the house, she still hasn't been paid. As things go from bad to worse, Hannah realizes that things are not at all what they seem and she finds herself doing things she never imagined herself capable of. But as she begins uncovering the family's crooked history, she may be exposing more than she bargained on-and putting her life in danger.
In this timely and fiercely honest debut novel, paced like a thriller, Purcell confronts the economic and sexual brutality inherent in the practice of human trafficking. After a terrorist bombing kills 17-year-old Hannah's parents (and police implicate her father), Hannah and her babushka (grandmother) teeter on the precipice of economic peril in Eastern Europe's impoverished Moldova. Just after Hannah leaves school, postponing her dreams of becoming a doctor, a charming agent named Olga offers her job in the United States. Despite widespread anxiety about the export of girls as sex products, this seems the only viable option for Hannah. After Hannah makes a harrowing journey across Russia and assumes a false identity, her dream job quickly becomes a nightmare. Housed in a typical L.A. home, she functions as a nanny (and house slave) for an indulgent but lascivious man and his monstrous, vindictive wife who won't allow her to leave the house and fails to pay her. The novel's intelligent, feisty heroine and strongly sketched supporting cast prove a powerful lens into this shocking issue and its psychological costs. Ages 12 up.