I was a little nervous when the Husband poured vanilla almond milk into the scrambled eggs, but you know what?  It worked!


It made the eggs more sweet than savory, but it was a very light sweetness and an interesting change.  Mmmm.


On toast with watermelon and pineapple.


I stayed up SO late last night finishing an amazing book – Girls Like Us by Rachel Lloyd, which was gifted to me by the publisher.


The issue of child sex trafficking is something that I care deeply about and have blogged about before (Selling the Girl Next Door).  Heads up:  this book discusses serious and sad topics relating to sexual abuse, so you may want to skip this book review if you are sensitive to the topic due to your own history.


Rachel Lloyd started an organization called GEMS in New York.  GEMS is the only non-profit organization in New York City that provides support for girls who have been sex trafficked.  And if you think things like this ‘don’t happen in the USA,’ trust me – unfortunately, they do.  In the United States alone, between 100,000 to 300,000 children are commercially sexually exploited and sold each year.  Many of the girls who come through the GEMS program are as young as 11 – 13. 


Rachel can related to their stories because she, too, was a commercially sexually exploited teen and young adult in Europe, where she grew up.  About whether Rachel would changed her past if she could:  “Obviously there have been experiences I would rather not have had and pain I wish I hadn’t felt, but every experience, every tear, every hardship has equipped me for the work I do now," she says. "I get such deep satisfaction from knowing I’m fulfilling my purpose, that my life is counting for something; it puts all the past hurts into perspective. My pain has become my passion and I find true joy in my work, in my life, and in seeing ‘my girls’ fulfill their purpose too."


One of the things that I really liked about Girls Like Us is that it tackles one of the most common responses to commercially sexually exploited teens: “Well, why don’t they just leave?”  Rachel argues that this question is unfair and implies that the teens are somehow responsible, not victims (scary fact:  the majority of states charge and treat girls as criminals if they are picked up by cops).  Children in ‘the life’ 1) may feel that they do not have many options due to their social, family, racial, and gender status; and 2) suffer from extreme emotional manipulation and physical abuse at the hands of their pimps that creates a Stockholm syndrome-like reaction, among other factors. 


Another important topic Rachel tackles is our semantics surrounding the sex trade.  She argues that we should call children in the sex trade “commercially sexually exploited children,” not prostitutes.  I really loved the chapters about this issue because it’s true – what we call ourselves and others has a huge impact on how we feel.  Semantics does matter. 


In summary, I really enjoyed this book, although it’s about a very tough topic, because it opened my eyes and heart to the realities of child sex trafficking in our country.  Any person who works in the mental health field would especially benefit from reading this moving and inspiring memoir. 


If you’re interested in other ‘women’s rights/topics’ books, check out my reviews of:


So Sexy So Soon by Jean Kilbourne

In Defense of Women by Judge Nancy Gertner

Nickel and Dimed by Barbara Enrenreich


P.S. – MY book, Operation Beautiful:  Transforming the Way You See Yourself One Post-It Note at a Time, is currently on crazy sale on Amazon – only $6.80 as I publish this.  It’s a great gift book for a woman in your life!



  • Averie @ Love Veggies and Yoga July 24, 2011, 9:00 am

    Caitlin, thank you for posting about this book, this topic, and for always having the courage to just put the hard topics out there. Thank you!

    I am very familiar with this topic and when I was in grad school doing my psych work, I did lots of reading and studying about the topic and in no way shape or form should we be blaming these girls (children!) and “just leaving”…ahhh, that’s what we say to women who are being battered or in abusive relationships, isn’t it..and yet it’s never that easy. If it was they would have left.

    Anyway, thank you for this post 🙂

  • Gina @ Running to the Kitchen July 24, 2011, 9:06 am

    Great review of something I’m sure not many of us want or do think about. I saw a documentary on this issue recently and it was eye opening.

  • Sarah@The Flying ONION July 24, 2011, 9:10 am

    I always put soymilk in my eggs, because I love that faintly sweet taste it renders. Very delicious. 😀

  • Yolie @ Practising Wellness July 24, 2011, 9:23 am

    I really want to read So Sexy So Soon because that is something close to home that really frightens me and worries me about todays culture…the over sexualisation of society and the effect that has on young girls. But this book too sounds absolutely incedible…like you said, about a very tough topic, but one that I know very little about and would like to earn more. I watched an amazing TV show by Demi Moore which was really interesting and eye-opening about sex trafficking. Rachel is amazing…what she says about her experiences equipping her for the work she does now, and about fulfilling her purpose. Thank you for sharing your view of this book, and for making me aware of it 🙂 xyx

  • Brittany @ Itty Bits of Balance July 24, 2011, 9:30 am

    This book looks like a great read. There’s been a lot going around in the media lately about child sex trafficking and I’m glad that awareness is being spread throughout our society.

    On another note– mmmm vanilla eggs? YES

  • Samantha @ Health, Happiness & Skinny Jeans July 24, 2011, 9:30 am

    That sounds like a very interesting read. I was exposed to many similar issues through my university studies and find that I am still drawn to them today. The Wisdom of Whores is another interesting read, and although not specifically geared towards or about women, it does pertain to an issue that still continues to plague many women: HIV. I thought it was interesting how they have traced this epidemic through different cultures and their methods to prevent it and educate people are worth exploring.

  • Sweet and Savvy July 24, 2011, 9:46 am

    Wow! That book sounds amazing. These issues are honestly things that everyone should be exposed to, as horrible as they may be.

  • Baking N Books July 24, 2011, 9:48 am

    I never heard of this book. Very interesting.

    I’m reading a book called “The Lost Girls” now – and although a far lighter read – it’s about 3 late-20 something women who quit their jobs to travel the world for a year – I’m learning that the traveling world is not what it seems…

    And how much young girls in other countries have no rights, will have to prostitute themselves, arranged marriages or care for their families instead of education growing up…it’s heartbreaking and really, really eye-opening of how discrepant the world truly is.

  • Shannon @ Mon Amour July 24, 2011, 9:59 am

    We talked a lot about topics like this in my social problems class and it really scared me how bad things really are. Other countries can seem perfectly safe when in reality they are very dangerous for young women and girls

  • Jessica July 24, 2011, 10:07 am

    Thanks for the mini-review – I hadn’t heard of the book yet, but I’ll have to check it out. Another unrelated but amazing book in the feminism department is Jean Kilbourne’s “Can’t Buy My Love” – it’s about the way advertising effects all of us, but especially girls/women. I discovered it through the “Body Image” course at UNCC, which I was thrilled to be able to take when I was a senior 🙂 It’s not as grave a topic as the book you mentioned, but is related enough to Operation Beautiful’s mission that I thought you might want to check it out.

    Happy Weekend!

  • Lynn July 24, 2011, 10:07 am

    Just a heads up if you’re in a rush when you buy this book – There’s another (older) book out there with the exact same title – but it’s about Joni Mitchell, Carole King and Carly Simon. A friend and I heard about it, went to the bookstore to pick it up for her husband (a big Joni M fan) found THIS book instead, and without looking at it closely, bought it. It made for a strange moment when her husband unwrapped it on their anniversary – they got a laugh out of it of course. My friend and I should obviously never be left in charge of the nuclear plant.

    Thanks for the review – Sounds like a great book! The strength and purpose of the author is commendable.

  • Kate July 24, 2011, 10:08 am

    I’m reading this book right now called “sex trafficking; modern day slavery” or something like that…it is so shocking and disturbing tj know that this goes on in out world…I don’t cry when I read books but I have openly cried multiple times during this one…it is so interesting yet I can’t wrap my mind around how this occurs.
    Anywyas so you know if there’s anyway to get involved with that organiZation in NYC that you mentioned??

  • Khushboo July 24, 2011, 10:09 am

    Thanks for the review, sounds like a real eye-opener. It’s great how Rachel turned something negative into a positive, ie used her experience as a way to help other girls who are unfortunately exploited too.

  • Aine @ Something to Chew Over July 24, 2011, 10:43 am

    Thanks for telling us about this book. I think this is an often misunderstood and ignored problem so it’s good to see these issues being brought to light.

  • Megan @ sweet on July 24, 2011, 10:47 am

    The podcast “Stuff Mom Never Told You” has an episode called How Human Trafficking works. It is very sad but educational, especially regarding how it begins, why it’s so hard to get statistics, find the girls, etc, and how the girls & women may be punished for speaking up. I recommend it for a brief primer on the subject.

  • Marisa @ Mind Over Booty July 24, 2011, 10:49 am

    You’ve got to watch Very Young Girls – it’s a documentary about GEMS! I used to work with teens, in or freshly out, of juvi. Rachel Lloyd’s journey and passion served as an example of who they could become even with their darker past experiences.

  • Chelsea July 24, 2011, 12:02 pm

    I saw the movie about GEMS! It was very very good 🙂 I just might read the book now as well.

  • Jenny July 24, 2011, 12:17 pm

    The documentary is really eye opening. I believe it is available for instant streaming through Netflix, which is how I saw it. I really admire Rachel Lloyd and her commitment to helping these girls.

  • Chelsea @ One Healthy Munchkin July 24, 2011, 12:26 pm

    It’s hard to believe that this kind of thing happens so close to home. It’s truly heartbreaking. But thanks for touching on the issue and helping to spread awareness! Every little bit helps! 🙂

  • Kate (What Kate is Cooking) July 24, 2011, 12:38 pm

    That sounds really interesting! I watched a documentary yesterday about sex trafficking of young girls and it was really disturbing and eye opening.

  • C July 24, 2011, 12:49 pm

    Thanks for this post, I will be checking this book at asap!

    I work with youth in ministry custody and the girl I am working with right now has recently begun selling herself. The scariest part is that with use of the internet and sites like Craigslist, it is so easy for her. I watched “Selling the Girl Next door” which touched upon this issue, but seeing it firsthand is almost uncomprehensible.

  • Amber K July 24, 2011, 12:55 pm

    I have watched Very Young Girls before and it brought to life the stories I had always heard. My heart breaks for those who find themselves in tough situations, especially when they don’t have our support and love. I’m so glad that there are programs like GEMS out there saving the innocent.

  • Molly @ RDexposed July 24, 2011, 1:10 pm

    You have an amazing heart.

  • The Healthy Engineer July 24, 2011, 1:24 pm

    Almond vanilla milk?? Sounds amazing!

    I tried normal almond milk and I can’t help but thinking that I’m drinking tree bark. It was a very wooden taste to it.

  • DadHTP July 24, 2011, 2:41 pm

    Child sexual abuse isobviosly an important problem, but “between 100,000 to 300,000 children are commercially sexually exploited” is an inflated number being floated by(and publicized by Ashton Kutcher)includes children “at risk” (some factors include having access to a car or living within 100 miles of a border). Even the author of the study conceded that “We’re talking about a few hundred people.(actually working as child prostitutes)” Here’s the reference – http://goo.gl/xVc7T.

    This is like the milk box campaign of the 80s – yes, there are kidnapped kids, mostly by parents in custody disputes, but the whole “stranger danger” thing was wildly exaggerated.
    There are tens, if not hundreds of thousands of kids being sexually abused – by a relative, not because they’re child prostitutes. Going after Aunt Mary or Uncle Jack is a lot less popular than being against child prostitution.

    • Kristin @ Wounded Fawn July 24, 2011, 6:19 pm

      Thank you for this comment. I wish there was an open discussion about familial molestation and help for those who suffer long after the physical abuse has stopped.

      We should be going after Aunt Mary and Uncle Jack!

    • Emily @ Comfortable Home Life July 26, 2011, 8:11 am

      I am the person that goes after Aunt Mary and Uncle Jack! I work in child protective services, and I specialize in sexual abuse. It’s by no means an easy job but it is wildly rewarding and extremely eye opening. CPS workers are also some of the most misunderstood, under-appreciated and undervalued people out there. Child sexual abuse is a topic no one wants to acknowledge/talk about so thank you, Caitlin, for blogging so candidly like you do! I’ll have to pick up this book. I have So Sexy So Soon on my bookshelf just waiting to be read. If you’re interested in this topic you should read A Piece of Cake. Also quite captivating!

  • kristin @ wounded fawn July 24, 2011, 2:49 pm

    I will definitely pick up this book. The subject of sexual exploitation and trafficking is very important to me. Unfortunately, there are parts of my past that make me much more sensitive to the subject but I hope to help others one day in a big way.

    For now I’d love to do even a little to help! I’ll look into GEMS further. Thanks for the review!

  • Callie July 24, 2011, 8:02 pm

    Thanks for the post and book review, especially since it’s such a hard topic, It’s hard to believe that something so disturbing like this is happening here.

  • Annette @ EnjoyYourHealthyLife July 24, 2011, 8:12 pm

    Thanks for your honest review and posting about such a sad topic. Will look into it, thanks!!

  • Ali July 24, 2011, 9:12 pm

    Rachel is part of a documentary about GEMS as well. I can’t remember the name of it but a quick google search would pull it up.
    I’m getting my Master’s now in International Development overseas in hopes of getting involved with a women’s rights NGO after graduation this winter. My favorite, favorite “women’s rights” book is “Half the Sky” by Nicholas Kristoff and his wife. It goes through human trafficking, bonded labor, female infanticide, poor maternal health, etc. It’s such an amazing, well-written book. I’ve started buying it for all the women and girls in my life for holidays and birthdays because I think every woman should be involved in some way with improving the lives of other women.

  • Miranda @ Working Mom Works Out July 25, 2011, 7:10 am

    Have you seen Jean Kilbourne’s Killing Us Softly?

  • Aubrey S July 25, 2011, 8:29 am

    I don’t know if you read Cosmo, but they have an article on this topic in this month’s issue.

  • Amanda July 25, 2011, 9:16 am

    There is also a documentary about the GEMS program. I watched it on Netflix instantly. It is such a difficult topic and really breaks my heart, but I think it is good to spread the word. I for one did not realize that this happened so often in the US before watching the movie!

    Thanks for pointing out that your book is on sale! I just ordered 4 copies that I am going to give to my bridesmaids as part of their gift for helping so much with my wedding. I lost a friend on June 25, 2011 to an eating disorder and since then have been trying so hard to accept myself fully, despite flaws and I have been trying to help those closest to me to do the same. It think your book will be a great gift for the girls in my life!

  • Audrey July 26, 2011, 12:34 am

    A few months ago two friends of mine, both seniors in high school, held a presentation and seminar on educating girls on safe sex and the dangers of sex trafficing. We live a suburb of Sacramento, and I don’t know if you know this, but Sacramento has one of the highest rates in the nation for child sex trafficing, due to our freeway system. One of the presenters told us about a girl she interviewed, who would be dropped off at the childrens recieving home, and immediately upon release would be reqruited by either a pimp or another trafficed person. And it is true; the motels across the street from that place are hotspots for this. The presentation really opened my eyes to the traps that are out there (like if you are offered to do some modeling at some guys house, or if someone offers to take you somewhere and you don’t know them), and it also opened my eyes to all the victims that I would drive by everyday, some as young as 13, and never even notice before.

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