Dirty Work by Julia Bell was another of the shortlisted books for the Stockport awards last week. Like the winning book, this is not your normal cosy read. It’s about trafficking and prostitution, and it all seems very, very real.
Julia brings two fifteen-year-olds from totally different backgrounds together and puts them in a dangerous situation. Oksana is an illegal Russian immigrant, who has worked hard all her life, and is used to starvation and extreme cold. Hope is the English daughter of a millionaire, who has all the creature comforts at her finger tips, but who is still unhappy and feels ignored by her rich parents.
First you think it’s going to be all right, and that things will work out. Then you realise it looks very bad, and you can’t work out quite how this can end well. Any reader who has imagined prostitution as something glamorous, like Hope did, will soon see what it’s really like. And anyone who thinks illegal immigrants should just go back where they came from, should get some new ideas as well.