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ⓘ A Walk Across the Sun




                                     

ⓘ A Walk Across the Sun

A Walk Across the Sun is a 2012 novel by Corban Addison. It covers the topics of human trafficking, exploitation, and the impact that culture can play on individual relationships and the way society reacts to disparities and injustice.

                                     

1. Plot

The novel follows two narratives, one following the orphaned teenage sisters Ahalya and Sita, who formerly lived near the coast of Chennai with their family, and another following a lawyer named Thomas who lives in the United States. The siblings have decided to go live in a convent after a tsunami leaves them homeless and orphaned, however they are tricked by a friend of their dead father. Rather than take them to safety, he takes them to a trafficker who sells them to a brothel in Mumbai. Ahalya agrees to sleep with the clients at the brothel to protect her younger sister from having to suffer the same fate and she even allows the son of the brothel to sleep with her almost every night. Being disheartened and discouraged, there is one woman in the brothel who tells the sister that his is their karma and they need to accept it, not fight it.

Meanwhile in the United States Thomass life is at a low point in both his career and life. He and his wife Priya have divorced after the death of his firstborn to SIDs put a strain on his relationship with his ex-wife. He is walking in a park one day when he witnesses a kidnapping, he does his best to chance the kidnappers, but is unable to catch up and they get away. This, along with the state of his life, motivates him to take some time off of work and go to Mumbai to help out in an anti-exploitation organization, CASE.

Back in India, the sisters are separated when Sita is purchased in order to transport drugs from India to France. She is forced to be a drug mule and swallow drugs wrapped in condoms and board a plane to Paris. Once there the drugs are retrieved and Sita is put to work without pay in a restaurant, the owners of the establishment treat her abysmally. During this Ahalya is rescued by Thomas and CASE after the organization discovers and raids the brothel, freeing the workers. Ahalya is sent to live in the convent and Thomas vows to find Sita. During his work he discovers that his ex-wife is in India, living with her family. He also manages to extract a confession from the brothel owner as to Sitas whereabouts and travels to Paris, only for Sita to be moved once again. This time she has been sent to a mansion and placed in forced domestic servitude to a family who mistreats her. She makes an unsuccessful attempt to flee, only for her to be recaptured and once again be trafficked.

Thomas manages to track Sita to the wealthy family but only barely misses meeting her, as he catches a glimpse of her in a vehicle as it sped off. Performing further investigation, Thomas learns that Sita is being sent the United States and informs the FBI. Now in the United States, Sita has a difficult time adapting to American culture and to the demands forced upon her by her traffickers. She is forced to pose for porn but is able to avoid being raped by her captors. Her images are discovered on the dark web and the FBI manages to match Sita’s face to a picture. This time Thomas is able to successfully rescue Sita and reunite the two sisters. Thomas is also able to reconcile with Priya and the two remarry. By the books end Thomas is continuing to work with CASE and is also expecting a child with Priya.

                                     

2. Development

Addison based the fictional institution of CASE on the human rights organization International Justice Mission JIM. With the organizations help Addison was able to go undercover into brothels and other places of exploitation in India, where he saw injustice first hand. This inspired him to write the book, as he wanted to draw attention to the issues of modern-day slavery and human trafficking. In the afterword Addison states that raising awareness can help abolish modern slavery, as could financially supporting an abolitionist cause or using their skills to help combat human trafficking.

                                     

3. Publication

A Walk Across the Sun was first published in hardback on January 3, 2012 through SilverOak, alongside an ebook edition and audiobook narrated by Soneela Nankani. A mass-market paperback version was released in 2015.

                                     

4. Reception

Publishers Weekly and the New York Journal of Books reviewed the novel, the latter of which stated that "Providing a treasure chest of prose, culture, nuance, insight, despair, and hope, A Walk Across the Sun is the kind of literature that should be celebrated and honored." The Christian Science Monitor also reviewed the work, criticizing the sub-plot of Thomas and Priyas marriage while praising Addison for his research on the slave trade and sexual trafficking. The Harvard Crimson was critical of the work, noting that while it was an "effective exploration of exploitation" the characters were all stock and the "coincidental events seem overly artificial and undermine the realism of experience."

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