"With empathy and intellect, Rachel Lloyd brings to light the heart-breaking stories of these lost, forgotten, and abused girls. Her own life story is a source of inspiration and hope. She is an important new voice of conscience to which America needs to pay attention."
"Fascinating and moving."
"Riveting. . . . [Lloyd’s] passionate, persuasive arguments for recognition and protection give a voice to the thousands of girls all around us who work and suffer in near invisibility."
"Heartbreaking. . . . But the book is also at times funny, bawdy, and optimistic, as is Lloyd herself."
"Rachel Lloyd’s astonishing stories of life on the street have an accumulative power that left me reeling. What makes Girls Like Us such an extraordinary achievement is that her storytelling is unflinchingly honest, and yet filled with a sense of promise, filled with a profound sense of hope."
"This book will burn a hole in your heart. The beauty of Rachel Lloyd’s searing memoir is how she exorcises the pain of her own troubled girlhood by connecting with hundreds of young women on a brutal path."
"Rachel Lloyd’s memoir should be mandatory reading for every cop, prosecutor, judge, and ‘john’, but also every mainstream American who thinks racism, classism, and misogyny don’t exist."
"Girls Like Us is a life-changing book, in every sense of the word. Rachel Lloyd changed her life in order to help change the lives of thousands of othersread her incredibly powerful story, and your life will be changed too."
Richard J. Estes
"Girls Like Us is a powerful and eloquent recounting of the lives of children and young women caught up in the ravages of sexual exploitation….[It] offers valuable insights into understanding the complex emotional and economic factors that contribute to the exploitation of children and youth."
Library Journal - BookSmack!
In 1998 at age 23, Lloyd founded GEMS (Girls Educational and Mentoring Services), a New York City-based nonprofit organization to help commercially sexually exploited young women and girls. Her memoir recounts her journey from a 13-year-old school dropout in England trying to support her unstable mother through years as a commercially exploited worker in the German sex industry before finding stability and safety. Arriving in the United States, she set out to break the system that had abused her, ultimately altering laws and helping to protect victims from criminal prosecution.What I'm Telling My Friends This consciousness-shifting book shreds stereotypes and perceptions of prostitution. Eradicating commercial sexual exploitation seems impossible, but GEMS is a light looming large. — "Memoir Short Takes," Booksmack! 1/6/11
A former sex worker shares her harrowing history while exposing the ugly truth about young girls who sell their bodies to survive.
Alternating between her own story and those of the girls she has dedicated her life to helping, Lloyd, founder of the nonprofit GEMS (Girls Educational and Mentoring Services), describes how poverty and abuse create a conflagration of circumstances under which it is commonplace for girls as young as 11 to be commercially trafficked. Born in Britain, Lloyd watched helplessly as her mother descended into drunkenness and despair, and she left home at 13. Like the adolescents she now helps, the author was desperate for love, acceptance and stability. She found it with a man who turned her out on the streets and routinely terrorized her, but she eventually escaped and embarkedon her life's mission of helping others in similar circumstances. Lloyd points out that underage girls molested by one individual are considered victims, to be protected, but when commercially exploited, they are seen as teen hookers and punished. She exposes the brutality punctuated with kindness with which pimps enforce compliance, comparing their methods to those utilized in hostage situations resulting in so-called Stockholm Syndrome. While control is maintained through violence, these adolescents—who may seem sullen and resistant to intervention—are considered to be complicit in their own abuse. Lloyd fought successfully to change New York state law resulting in the Safe Harbor for Exploited Youth Act, making it the first state to protect rather then prosecute, but she argues that we must all embrace language to reflect this understanding—stipulating that the term "teen prostitute" conveys a pejorative choice rather then the reality of commercial exploitation and trafficking. The author acknowledges but does not directly address males in similar circumstances, but any at-risk child is covered under the new law.
A painful yet powerful book that asks readers to examine personal prejudices, find compassion for those most view as throwaways and recognize child abuse however it manifests.