Sixteen-year-old Katina King’s jujitsu skills help her survive a sexual assault in the halls of her North California high school. But she still suffers emotionally. Desperate dreams disturb her sleep, and her fear of men escalates. Seeing her daughter’s struggle, Kat’s mother arranges for her to stay with an elderly woman in Boston.
In that city, Kat meets Robin, a teen who was born in Kolkata, India, and adopted when he was 3 years old by a wealthy American couple. Not knowing his birth mother fills Robin with unresolved feelings he can’t define and an inability to make decisions about his future after high school.
Kat, who has had no Christian upbringing, meets Robin at his youth group in a small Presbyterian church. At first, she’s standoffish and bewildered by what she witnesses: why do these teens and their pastor gather with eyes closed to talk to someone they can’t see?
When the youth are given the opportunity to spend 10 weeks in Kolkata working with human trafficking survivors, their pastor emphasizes that they are going there to learn and serve, not to try to fix or save people. Since Kat and Robin each wish they could rewind the past and start over again, they leave home with personal agendas. But they soon learn the hard way that any fantasy superhero notions they have will generate more harm than good.
In this YA book, Mitali Perkins tackles a deeply painful subject—the buying and selling of human beings by criminals for sexual exploitation and economic gain. As a Christian writer, she adroitly tells a story of faith—new faith and rejuvenated belief—without sermonizing. She also brilliantly employs metaphor as she explores the theme of heroisms and what genuine, godly courageousness and justice-seeking entail. (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)