An inspiring and compelling memoir from a young woman who lost her childhood to slavery—and built a new life grounded in determination and justice.
When Shyima Hall was eight years old, her impoverished parents sold her to pay a debt. Two years later, the wealthy family she was sold to moved to Orange County, California, and smuggled her with them. Shyima served the family eighteen hours a day, seven days a week until she was twelve. That’s when an anonymous call from a neighbor brought about the end of Shyima’s servitude—but her journey to true freedom was far from over.
A volunteer at her local police department since she was a teenager, Shyima is passionate about helping to rescue others who are in bondage. Now a US citizen, she regularly speaks out about human trafficking and intends to one day become an immigration officer. In Hidden Girl, Shyima “commands unfailing interest, sympathy, and respect” (Publishers Weekly), candidly reveals how she overcame her harrowing circumstances, and brings vital awareness to a timely and relevant topic.
Honesty and strong convictions characterize Hall's storytelling in this disquieting memoir. Raised in the slums near Alexandria, Egypt, she doesn't attend school, staying home to care for the household, especially four younger siblings. When an older sister steals from an employer, Shyima is sold to him to maintain the family honor. She is eight years old. For nearly five years, first in Egypt and then in California, Shyima labors from dawn until midnight to serve the needs of an extended Egyptian family. America marks a dramatic worsening of her plight: there the 10-year-old is the family's only maid. However, America also offers freedom after someone calls the authorities about a shabby, undersize child who never goes to school. It's a long road to something resembling "normal" in a new culture, language, and reality. Shyima is realistic about her challenges but optimistic, too. Her story holds attention without being too graphic indeed, for some readers, there may be too little visceral communication of the horror of Shyima's situation. Nevertheless, she commands unfailing interest, sympathy, and respect. Ages 14 up.
Customer ReviewsSee All
Eye Opener !!!!
This is the Best Book I have read in a long time!
What an incredible story! Shyima has so much courage. We all need the reminder to be grateful for what we have no matter how big or small! Saddening this happened only a few miles from where I live!
I wish Shyima all the best. She deserves to live a happy life of freedom!