There are kids whose pictures you see on milk cartons--boys and
girls who have vanished and are desperately missed. A lot of the
other kids who disappear have no one who cares enough to search. Some
are abused and/or neglected. Some are kicked out or abandoned.
However they end up on the streets, they have to find a way to obtain
food and shelter. Often all they have to barter is their bodies.
After reading that the average age of a female prostitute in the
United States is 12, Ellen Hopkins sought to bring their plight to our
attention. "...Tricks looks at a handful of reasons that might drive
a young adult to sell his or her body. Here, and in real life, almost
always you can distill the reason to survival."
In Tricks you will learn the stories of five young people who
come from very different situations to a common destination turning
tricks in Las Vegas. Alternating voices in very vivid free form poetry
will introduce you to:
*Eden is the older daughter of "a hellfire-and-brimstone-preaching
Assembly of God minister" and "his not-nearly-as-sweet-as-she-seems
right-hand woman". She and her sister are to ignore men until they
are old enough to be safely wed to suitable (same faith) men. She has
to keep her boyfriend, who is too honest to play a role, a secret,
knowing that the consequences of being found out would be drastic.
*Seth has always preferred crafts to war games. After high school he
aspires to attend a liberal arts college.
"Not easy, coming from
a long line of farmers and
factory workers. Dad's big
dream for his only son has
always been tool and die."
The mother who had encouraged him to reach for his own dreams is
dead. But he has every reason to believe she wouldn't have accepted
his homosexuality any better than his father will if he finds out.
*Whitney is the neglected younger sister who has gone through her life
playing second fiddle.
She's beautiful. I'm smart.
She's a genius. I can sing
a tolerable alto. She'll solo,
lead soprano at the Met.
Mom's own failed dreams
ressurected in Kyra." Even away at college Kyra casts a long shadow.
Whitney's father, who takes her side, is rarely ever home. The
boyfriend she loves ditches her after popping her cherry.
*Ginger is the oldest of six children with five different fathers in a
family that seems ripped from the case files of children's protective
services. Mom earns a living turning tricks and bounces from live in
to live in. Alcohol and pills figure prominantly in her life style.
When she takes the younger kids out for ice cream and leaves Ginger
behind it's because she's sold her nonconsensual services to a man
willing to pay for a good time.
*Cody's family is falling apart. His syepfather's digestive problems
turn put to be cancer His brother, Corey, is getting way out of
control. His mom is a "mess."
"I never believed this day would
come. Some stupid part of me kept
insisting the doctors were wrong.
Oh, God, I miss him so much already.
What am I going to do without him?"
Cody has this gambling habit. If only lady luck will stick with him,
he'll be able to help them stay afloat.
Hopkins wrote Tricks to expose the ugly world of underage
prostitution and to hold out hope for those who become enmeshed in
it. "...No one deserves the kind of mistreatment often perpetrated by
"johns" and pimps. Whatever the reasons for resorting to
prostitution, whatever has happened in someone's past, the future is
theirs to shape. The first step is to find a way out."
On a personal note, the last two Orono Community Garden delivery days
were truly memorable. We had big heavy bags of produce to deliver.
This summer we have grown organic veggies for 57 low income senior
citizen households. Last week we experienced something of a minor
miracle. We discovered a wild plum tree on our land with the sweetest
fruit...after over a decade. Then this week we had a television
reporter giving us some good free publicity.
A great big shout out goes out to my Orono Community Garden family.
You make the golden days of a short Maine summer all the more precious
for being in it!
Julia Emily Hathaway
Sent from my iPod