Hidden Girl: The True Story of a Modern-Day Child Slave

Shyima Hall, Author, Lisa Wysocky, With
Shyima Hall with Lisa Wysocky. Simon & Schuster, $16.99 (240p) ISBN 978-1-4424-8168-8
Reviewed on: 11/04/2013
Release date: 01/21/2014
Open Ebook - 320 pages - 978-1-4424-8170-1
Paperback - 240 pages - 978-1-4424-8169-5
MP3 CD - 978-1-4945-5350-0
Pre-Recorded Audio Player - 978-1-4676-8590-0
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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. Agent: Sharlene Martin, Martin Literary Management. (Jan.)
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