The Road of Lost Innocence: The True Story of a Cambodian Heroine

( 68 )

Overview

"Born in a village deep in the Cambodian forest, Somaly Mam was sold into sexual slavery by her grandfather when she was twelve years old. For the next decade she was shuttled through the brothels that make up the sprawling sex trade of Southeast Asia. Trapped in this dangerous and desperate world, she suffered the brutality and horrors of human trafficking - rape, torture, deprivation - until she managed to escape with the help of a French aid worker. Emboldened by her newfound freedom, education, and security, Somaly blossomed but remained
... See more details below
Available through our Marketplace sellers.
Other sellers (Hardcover)
  • All (39) from $1.99   
  • New (7) from $3.92   
  • Used (32) from $1.99   
Close
Sort by
Page 1 of 1
Showing 1 – 6 of 7
Note: Marketplace items are not eligible for any BN.com coupons and promotions
$3.92
Seller since 2010

Feedback rating:

(15)

Condition:

New — never opened or used in original packaging.

Like New — packaging may have been opened. A "Like New" item is suitable to give as a gift.

Very Good — may have minor signs of wear on packaging but item works perfectly and has no damage.

Good — item is in good condition but packaging may have signs of shelf wear/aging or torn packaging. All specific defects should be noted in the Comments section associated with each item.

Acceptable — item is in working order but may show signs of wear such as scratches or torn packaging. All specific defects should be noted in the Comments section associated with each item.

Used — An item that has been opened and may show signs of wear. All specific defects should be noted in the Comments section associated with each item.

Refurbished — A used item that has been renewed or updated and verified to be in proper working condition. Not necessarily completed by the original manufacturer.

New
2008-09-09 Hardcover New Hardcover! Unmarked pages, may have very slight warehouse wear, sealed in plastic, exact artwork as listed,

Ships from: Ossining, NY

Usually ships in 1-2 business days

  • Canadian
  • International
  • Standard, 48 States
  • Standard (AK, HI)
  • Express, 48 States
  • Express (AK, HI)
$3.93
Seller since 2009

Feedback rating:

(1586)

Condition: New
This is a brand new book.

Ships from: fall river, MA

Usually ships in 1-2 business days

  • Canadian
  • International
  • Standard, 48 States
  • Standard (AK, HI)
  • Express, 48 States
  • Express (AK, HI)
$7.43
Seller since 2014

Feedback rating:

(15)

Condition: New
Brand new condition, mint and unused. Dust jacket in pristine condition. Give this as a gift. No writing or highlighting present. Fast shipping with delivery confirmation.

Ships from: Parkville, MD

Usually ships in 1-2 business days

  • Canadian
  • International
  • Standard, 48 States
  • Standard (AK, HI)
$16.00
Seller since 2010

Feedback rating:

(53)

Condition: New
New York, NY 2008 Hard cover First edition. STATED 1ST EDITION, 1ST PRINTING New in new dust jacket. BRIGHT CLEAN, BRAND NEW Glued binding. Paper over boards. With dust jacket. ... 193 p. Audience: General/trade. Read more Show Less

Ships from: Sloansville, NY

Usually ships in 1-2 business days

  • Canadian
  • International
  • Standard, 48 States
  • Standard (AK, HI)
  • Express, 48 States
  • Express (AK, HI)
$16.90
Seller since 2009

Feedback rating:

(316)

Condition: New
Brand new item. Pristine condition. Hardcover with dust jacket.

Ships from: Edmonds, WA

Usually ships in 1-2 business days

  • Canadian
  • International
  • Standard, 48 States
  • Standard (AK, HI)
  • Express, 48 States
  • Express (AK, HI)
$50.00
Seller since 2014

Feedback rating:

(181)

Condition: New
Brand new.

Ships from: acton, MA

Usually ships in 1-2 business days

  • Standard, 48 States
  • Standard (AK, HI)
Page 1 of 1
Showing 1 – 6 of 7
Close
Sort by
The Road of Lost Innocence: The Story of a Cambodian Heroine

Available on NOOK devices and apps  
  • NOOK Devices
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK
  • NOOK HD/HD+ Tablet
  • NOOK
  • NOOK Color
  • NOOK Tablet
  • Tablet/Phone
  • NOOK for Windows 8 Tablet
  • NOOK for iOS
  • NOOK for Android
  • NOOK Kids for iPad
  • PC/Mac
  • NOOK for Windows 8
  • NOOK for PC
  • NOOK for Mac
  • NOOK for Web

Want a NOOK? Explore Now

NOOK Book (eBook)
$11.99
BN.com price

Overview

"Born in a village deep in the Cambodian forest, Somaly Mam was sold into sexual slavery by her grandfather when she was twelve years old. For the next decade she was shuttled through the brothels that make up the sprawling sex trade of Southeast Asia. Trapped in this dangerous and desperate world, she suffered the brutality and horrors of human trafficking - rape, torture, deprivation - until she managed to escape with the help of a French aid worker. Emboldened by her newfound freedom, education, and security, Somaly blossomed but remained haunted by the girls in the brothels she left behind." The Road of Lost Innocence recounts the experiences of her early life and tells the story of her awakening as an activist and her harrowing and brave fight against the powerful and corrupt forces that steal the lives of these girls.
Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Jane Ciabattari
In The Road of Lost Innocence, [Mam] writes of corrupt government officials and police who allow the illegal businesses to thrive. Her account inspires outrage.
—The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly

The horror and violence perpetrated on young girls to feed the sex trade industry in southeast Asia is personalized in this graphic story. Of "mixed race," Khmer and Phnong, Mam is living on her own in the forest in northern Cambodia around 1980 when a 55-year-old stranger claims he will take her to her missing family. "Grandfather" beats and abuses the nine-year-old Mam and sells her virginity to a Chinese merchant to cover a gambling debt. She is subsequently sold into a brothel in Phnom Penh, and the daily suffering and humiliation she endures is almost impossible to imagine or absorb ("I was dead. I had no affection for anyone"). She recounts recalcitrant girls being tortured and killed, and police collusion and government involvement in the sex trade; she manages to break the cycle only when she discovers the advantages of ferengi(foreign) clients and eventually marries a Frenchman. She comes back to Cambodia from France, now unafraid, and with her husband, Pierre; sets up a charity, AFESIP, "action for women in distressing circumstances"; and fearlessly devotes herself to helping prostitutes and exploited children. The statistics are shocking: one in every 40 Cambodian girls (some as young as five) will be sold into sex slavery. Mam brings to the fore the AIDS crisis, the belief that sex with a virgin will cure the disease and the Khmer tradition of women's obedience and servitude. This moving, disturbing tale is not one of redemption but a cry for justice and support for women's plight everywhere. (Sept.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Kirkus Reviews
Candid memoir of a woman trapped in the sex-slave trade, who is now an activist against it. "You shouldn't try and discover the past," Mam recalls her adoptive father telling her. "You shouldn't hurt yourself." Born in 1970 or 1971 and torn from her ethnic Phnong family during Cambodia's genocidal civil war, Mam suffered as a child in a Khmer village whose people saw her as "fatherless, black, and ugly," possibly even a cannibal. Her pederast grandfather sold her virginity to a Chinese merchant to whom he owed money, a prize in a culture where raping a virgin was believed to cure AIDS. He then sold her to a soldier who "beat me often, sometimes with the butt of his rifle on my back and sometimes with his hands." From there it was a short path to what Mam calls "ordinary prostitution," working for a madam who was quick to hit and slow to feed. In time, after a series of indignities that she recounts in painful detail, Mam extricated herself to live with a French humanitarian-aid worker. Married, she moved with him to France, where she discovered that "French people could be racist, just like the Khmers." Burdened with an unpleasant mother-in-law, she welcomed the chance to return to Cambodia, working in a Doctors Without Borders clinic and turning her home into a kind of halfway house for abused, drug-addicted and ill prostitutes, most of whom were very young. Mam recounts her battles against government officials, pimps, brothel keepers and other foes in a campaign that brought death threats against her, but that slowly gathered force as it gained funding from UNICEF and several European governments. That campaign is ongoing, and Mam concludes that there's plenty left to do, since Cambodiais "in a state of chaos where the only rule is every man for himself."An urgent, though depressing, document, worthy of a place alongside Ishmael Beah's A Long Way Gone, Rigoberto Menchu's autobiography and other accounts of overcoming Third World hardship. Agent: Susanna Lea/Susanna Lea Associates
From the Publisher
The Road of Lost Innocence is unputdownable, and you read it with a lump in your throat. Somaly Mam’s story is an account of how humanity can sink to the lowest levels of depravity, but it is also a testimony of resistance and hope. She lifted herself out of a well of terror and found the determination and the resilience to save others. Somaly Mam is my candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize.”—Ayaan Hirsi Ali, author of Infidel

“An inspiring story from the front lines of a global tragedy. Somaly Mam’s courageous fight to save women and children reminds us that one person can stand up and change the fate of others for good.”
—Mariane Pearl, author of A Mighty Heart

“A powerful autobiography that I highly recommend.”—New York Times

“Inspiring.”—People

“Haunting . . . Mam explains trafficking from a girl’s perspective in a fresh, often poetic voice. . . . This is an important book to read.”—Seattle Times

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780385526210
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 9/9/2008
  • Pages: 208
  • Product dimensions: 5.80 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Somaly Mam is the cofounder of AFESIP (Acting for Women in Distressing Situations) in Europe and The Somaly Mam Foundation in the United States, whose goal is to save and socially reintegrate victims of sexual slavery in Southeast Asia. She was named Glamour's Woman of the Year in 2006. She lives in Cambodia and France.
Read More Show Less

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

The Forest

My name is Somaly. At least that's the name I have now. Like everyone in Cambodia, I've had several. Names are the result of temporary choices. You change them the way you'd change lives. As a small child, I was called Ya, and sometimes just Non--"Little One." When I was taken away from the forest by the old man, I was called Aya, and once, at a border crossing, he told the guard my name was Viriya--I don't really know why. I got used to people calling me all sorts of names, mostly insults. Then, years later, a kind man who said he was my uncle gave me the name Somaly: "The Necklace of Flowers Lost in the Virgin Forest." I liked it; it seemed to fit the idea of who I felt I really was. When I finally had the choice, I decided to keep that name as my own.

I will never know what my parents called me. But then I have nothing from them, no memories at all. My adoptive father once gave me this typically Khmer advice: "You shouldn't try to discover the past. You shouldn't hurt yourself." I suspect he knows what really happened, but he has never talked to me about it. The little I do know I've had to piece together with vague recollections and some help from history.

I spent my earliest years in the rolling countryside of northeastern Cambodia, surrounded by savanna and forests, not far from the high plains of Vietnam. Even today, when I have the chance to go into the forest, I feel at home. I recognize smells. I recognize plants. I instinctively know what's good to eat and what's poisonous. I remember the waterfalls. The sound of them is still in my ears. We children would bathe naked under the cascading water and play at holding our breath. I remember the smell of the virgin forest. I have a buried memory of this place.

The people of Bou Sra, the village where I was born, are Phnong. They are an old tribe of mountain people, quite unlike the Khmer who dominate the lowlands of Cambodia. I have inherited the typical Phnong dark skin from my mother. Cambodians see it as black and ugly. In Khmer, the word "Phnong" means "savage." Throughout Southeast Asia, people are very sensitive about skin color. The paler you are, the closer to "moon color," the more highly you are prized. A plump woman with white skin is the supreme object of beauty and desire. I was dark and thin and very unattractive.

I was born sometime around 1970 or 1971, when the Troubles began in Cambodia. My parents left me with my maternal grandmother when I was still a small child. Perhaps they were seeking a better life, or perhaps they were forced to leave. Before I turned five, the country had been carpet-bombed by the Americans. Then it was seized by the murderous regime of Pol Pot's Khmer Rouge. The four years of Khmer Rouge rule, from 1975 to 1979, were responsible for the deaths of about one in five people in Cambodia through execution, starvation, or forced labor. In the storm of events, countless others were simply swept away from their villages and families without leaving a trace. People were displaced to work camps, where they toiled as slaves, or were forced to fight for the regime. There are many reasons why my parents might have left the forest.

The story I like to tell myself is that my parents and grandmother always had my best interests at heart. Among the Phnong, the mother's lineage determines ethnicity. So despite my father being Khmer, when my parents left, my place was with the Phnong in Mondulkiri Province. Not long thereafter my grandmother would also disappear, much too soon for me to have any lasting memory of her. Mountain people up and leave for any old reason, as soon as anything displeases them. No one expected an explanation, especially not during those troubled years. So when my grandmother left the forest, no one knew where she went. I don't think I was abandoned--she probably thought I'd be safest in the village. There was no way she could have known that the forest would not be my home for long.

Our village was nothing more than a dozen round huts clustered in a forest clearing. The huts were made of plaited bamboo, their straw roofs low to the ground. Most families shared a single large hut with no partition between the communal sleeping platform and the cooking area. Other families kept themselves separate. With no parents or other family in the village, I would sleep on my own in a hammock. I lived like a little savage. I slept here or there, and ate where I could. I was at home everywhere and nowhere. I don't remember any other children who slept alone among the trees, as I did. Perhaps I wasn't taken in by anyone because I was of mixed race--part Phnong and part Khmer. Or perhaps I just made a decision to be by myself. Being an orphan in Cambodia is no rare condition. It is frighteningly ordinary.

I wasn't generally unhappy, but I remember feeling cold all the time. On particularly bitter or rainy nights, a kind man, Taman, would make space for me in his home. He was a Cham, a Muslim Khmer, but his wife was Phnong. I can't remember her name, but I thought she was beautiful with her long black hair tied behind her head with a bamboo stick, her high cheekbones, and a necklace made of shiny black wood and animal teeth. She was nice to me. Sometimes she would try to wash my long hair, rubbing the ash of a special herb into it to clean it, and then oiling it with pig fat and combing it with her fingers while she sang. She wore an intricately woven black and red cloth around her waist. Some women would leave their breasts bare, but Taman's wife covered hers.

Taman, like the other men, wore a loincloth that left his buttocks bare. The men wore strings of beads and bows strapped to their backs and had thick cylinders of wood pierced through their earlobes.

We children would be naked most of the time. We would play or help make clothes together out of thick, flat leaves wrapped with vines. Taman's wife would weave for hours on end, sitting on the floor with her legs stretched out in front of her and the bamboo loom tied to her feet.

Her teeth were filed into sharp points. Phnong girls file and blacken their teeth when they become women, but I left the village long before the time for filing teeth.

I was always looking for a mother so that I could be held in her arms, kissed, and stroked, like Taman's wife held her children. I was very unhappy not to have a mother like everyone else. My only confidants were the trees. I talked to them and told them about my sorrow. They listened, understood, and made discreet signs in my direction. They were my only true friends, along with the moon. When things got unbearable, I confessed my secrets to the waterfalls, because the water couldn't reverse its flow and betray me. Even today, I sometimes talk to trees. Other than that, I almost never spoke as a child. There wouldn't have been much point--nobody would have listened.

I found my own food. I would roam the forest and eat what I could find: fruit, wild vegetables, and honey. There were also plenty of insects, such as grasshoppers and ants, to eat. I particularly loved the ants. I still know where to look to find fruits and berries, and I still know that there are bees you can follow to find their honey. And I still know that you should look down because there are mushrooms on the ground, but also snakes.

If I caught an animal I would take it to Taman's wife to cook. She cooked meat under a layer of ash, because ash is naturally salty. Sometimes she dried the little pieces of meat in buffalo dung, mixed them with bitter herbs and rice, and cooked them over the fire. The first time I returned to the village as an adult, almost twenty-five years later, I discovered that dish again and I ate so much I made myself sick.

The mountain land in the Mondulkiri region was ill suited for growing rice, so the entire village had to work together to grow our food. The forest had to be burned to create rice paddies. Every few years, the forest had to be burned so we could grow rice, and we would be forced to go farther and farther afield in search of good soil. The distances were vast, especially for my little legs, and sometimes we'd have to walk for several days. We had no carts or work animals like the Khmer had in their flooded rice paddies. Everything we brought back to the village we had to carry ourselves.

When the rice was harvested, several villages would gather around a fire to celebrate. We would sacrifice a buffalo to the spirits who lived in the forest and dance to the beat of the metal gongs. There'd be endless banqueting and lots of rice wine. I remember the earthenware jars being enormous, almost as tall as I was. We'd drink it straight from the jar, one by one, sipping through a bamboo straw. Even children were allowed to join in. I remember a great deal of kindness toward the children on these occasions. The Phnong people are good to children--not like the Khmer.
Our hills were so remote that probably no doctor or nurse had ever set foot in them. There were certainly no schools. I never saw a Buddhist or Christian preacher. And although my childhood coincided with the Khmer Rouge regime, I also have no recollection of ever seeing soldiers.

The Khmer Rouge had decreed that mountain people like the Phnong were "core people." We were examples for others to follow, because we had no contact with Western habits and lived collectively. Our forest and hills protected us from the suffering that engulfed the rest of Cambodia while I was a small child.

Pol Pot had abolished money throughout the entire country of Cambodia, along with school diplomas, motor vehicles, eyeglasses, books, and any other sign of modern life. But I don't think that's why we had no currency. The Phnong never needed money. If the grown-ups wanted something we couldn't make or grow or hunt, they traded for it. If we wanted a cabbage, we went to ask a neighbor who had planted some. He would give us cabbage without asking for anything in return. Now it's different: the people from Phnom Penh arrive on weekends or during the holidays in their big 4_4s with their pockets full of bills.

One day when I was about nine or ten, Taman called me into his hut and introduced me to a stranger. This man, like Taman, was a Cham Muslim. He was very tall and strongly built, with a thin nose like Taman and pale skin. I suppose he might have been about fifty-five, which is very old in Cambodia. Taman told me that this man was from the same place as my father. He used the word "grandfather" to refer to him, as all Cambodians do to show respect to the elderly. He told me that if I went with this grandfather, he would take me to my father's province and I would find my family.

Perhaps Taman really believed that this grandfather would take care of me. Perhaps he truly thought this old Cham man would help me find my father's relatives. Perhaps he was convinced that I would be better off living in the lowlands, with an adult to look after me. Or perhaps he sold me to this man, knowing full well that, at best, I would become his indentured servant.

I have tried many times to find Taman, to understand his reasoning, but I've since learned it's never possible to know what really motivates people.

At first I really liked this grandfather and was happy to leave with him. In my short life, not many people had offered to look after me. I thought this man was my real grandfather, someone who would adopt and love me. I thought he knew where my parents were. I put together a bundle with a tunic that Taman's wife had made for me, along with a wooden necklace and a short black and red cloth with green embroidery.

We began walking. We walked for a long time, along paths that took us farther and farther from the places I knew. He wasn't talkative, but neither was I. He spoke very little Phnong, and we were forced to communicate through rudimentary gestures.

We came to a place where people were swarming around a giant logging truck. It was the largest, most frightening thing I had ever seen. There was no way I was going to climb on the logs like everyone else--the truck terrified me. I had never even seen a bicycle before, let alone a motorized vehicle.

I backed away, but Grandfather glared at me and raised his hand menacingly. I didn't understand this gesture--I had never been hit--but I saw that his face had changed, that it was rough and angry, and it frightened me even more than the truck did. Then his hand struck me with a hard blow that knocked me to the ground. With my cheek bleeding, he pulled me up and onto the truck.

I knew then that I had made the wrong choice, that this bad man was not my grandfather and would never love me. But it was too late to go back.

Chapter Two

The Village

When the logging truck dropped us off, we moved onto some kind of military truck that was carrying soldiers. After that, sometimes we rode in horse-drawn carts. There were people everywhere. A momentous change had dragged practically everyone in Cambodia back onto the road. A year or so earlier, in 1979, after four years of Khmer Rouge border attacks, the Communist government of Vietnam had invaded Cambodia. After the Vietnamese defeated the Khmer Rouge, they set up a new government, and starved, terrified people from every corner of the country began moving back to their home villages. When my journey took place, the country was still teeming with movement.
I knew none of this at the time, of course, but I was mesmerized by the crowds. The roads. The motorcycles. All the noise. The people looked beautiful, their skin so pale and their clothes exquisite. There were markets, with forks, bottles, string, shoes, matches, cigarettes, medicine, cosmetics, radios, and guns--all things I had never seen. There was so much metal, and so much color.

We were traveling southeast, across the border into Vietnam, though the concept of "Vietnam"--or even "Cambodia"--meant nothing at all to me then. Grandfather was delivering a load of sandalwood from the forest to a trader in Da Lat, in the high plains of southern Vietnam, and I helped him carry it. After Da Lat we traveled south, toward Saigon, and then began circling back.

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

1 The Forest 1

2 The Village 9

3 "This Is Your Husband" 30

4 Aunty Nop 41

5 Aunty Peuve 55

6 Foreigners 65

7 The French Embassy 81

8 France 95

9 Kratie 108

10 New Beginnings 120

11 Guardian Angels 132

12 The Prince of Asturias and the Village of Thlok Chhrov 142

13 Afesip 155

14 The Victims 166

15 Conclusion 183

Acknowledgments 191

Appendix 195

Read More Show Less

Foreword

1. The theme of silence–both cultural and personal–runs throughout Somaly Mam’s story. “People learned from [the years under Pol Pot] that they couldn’t trust anyone–friends, neighbors, not even their family,” Mam writes. “The more you let people know about yourself–the more you speak–the more you expose yourself to danger. It was important to see, not to hear, not to know anything about what was happening. This is a very Cambodian attitude toward life” (p. 14). Indeed, in this context, the fact that Somaly Mam, a Cambodian woman, wrote a memoir is itself an act of courage and defiance. What helped Somaly to find her voice in a culture that suppresses the cries of the individual? By what methods does she combat this conspiracy of silence?

 2. Compare the Cambodian tradition of silent forbearance in the face of unthinkable adversity with the explicit repression found in political regimes that do not permit free speech and individual expression. Which do you think is a more insidious and dangerous form of repression? 

3. In chapter 10, “New Beginnings,” Somaly returns to Phnom Penh as a married woman and encounters an old man who lives in a small house with a beautiful, orchid-filled garden. He was “an intellectual and he’d been through every kind of revolution and change and suffering too.” He tells Somaly, “In Cambodia we’re like frogs in front of the king. When the king orders it, we poke our heads above water and sing . . . But if we pokeour heads out without having been invited to, the king cuts them off with his sword. I’ve seen everything and lived everything . . . It’s all useless. When you’re young . . . you want to understand a great many things. It’s no use. I fought all my life and for nothing; now I wait for death. The only thing to hope for in this world is the peace you need to look after your own garden” (p. 128). Somaly writes that she understood him and thought about his words often, but, she says, “I don’t feel like I can change the world . . . I only want to change this small life that I see standing in front of me, which is suffering. I want to change this small real thing that is the destiny of one little girl. And then another, and another, because if I didn’t, I wouldn’t be able to live with myself or sleep at night” (pp. 128—29). Compare Somaly’s life experience with the old man’s. Somaly reached adulthood without a formal education, while this man is described as an intellectual who has seen and experienced much. What do you think accounts for their different views of personal responsibility, when arguably, a person such as Somaly, who has experienced and witnessed the most violent and depraved acts of man, has a greater right to feel self-protective and hopeless about humanity? Why does the old man advise keeping one’s head low and tending one’s garden, while Somaly risks everything to save one little girl’s life? 

4. Somaly writes about the status of women in Cambodia and their sense of self-worth: “There is one law for women: silence . . . We’re taught when we’re little to be like the silkcotton tree: dam kor. Deaf and dumb. Blind too, if possible. Your daughters will look after you, because that’s their duty. Other than that, they’re not worth much” (p. 185). From a young age, girls are taught service and submission. They learn to expect violence instead of tenderness from men. Even Somaly, when she writes about her husband, Pierre, the father of her children, speaks with a frank pragmatism about her marriage: “I may not have loved Pierre, but I thought I could live with this man. He was simple, like a Cambodian. He ate rice and prahoc sauce . . . Pierre wasn’t rich, but of all the people I had ever met, he was the only one who was attentive to me–not to my body, but to me” (p. 76). Her marriage ended in 2004, shortly after the birth of her son. Do you think Somaly’s sense of selfworth played a role in the demise of her marriage? 

5. When Somaly was carrying her first child, she confides, “I felt paralyzed by the thought of being a mother to someone. I had never had a mother and I painfully felt that hole in my life. To be a mother myself felt impossible” (p. 123). And yet, after giving birth, Somaly’s fear instantly dissipates. “Something happened to me that night. It was almost like my life began again, a whole new life” (p. 124). What do you think Somaly felt after giving birth that transformed her into a mother? How do you think she finds the tenderness and compassion within to become the mother to those she rescues when also confronted with the most grim and desperate view of humanity? 

6. In the chapter entitled “The Victims,” Somaly writes, “Most [Cambodian parents] do know their children are going into prostitution. To avoid paying commissions, they take their daughters to the brothels themselves . . . But these parents do it anyway. They care only about themselves” (pp. 168—69). Is it possible to understand the actions of these parents and find compassion for them in view of the mass trauma and psychic scarring Cambodians suffered during the many years of war and dictatorship that ravaged the country? 

7. In Nicholas D. Kristof’s foreword, he describes Somaly as “the Harriet Tubman of Southeast Asia’s brothels, repeatedly rescuing those left behind.” Compare Somaly’s brand of activism and confrontational style with that of Tubman’s Underground Railroad. Which is the greater scourge–the ignorance and prejudice that allowed slavery to proliferate in the United States until the mid-nineteenth century or the cultural acceptance and capital that makes human trafficking one of the largest criminal industries in the world today? What forces must an antislavery activist of today confront that were not in place in the nineteenth century? What tools does Somaly have in her arsenal that Tubman did not? Whose challenge is greater? 

8. Arguably, when people act inhumanely they rely on a community of people who make excuses for their actions, demonize and disassociate from victims, deny wrongdoing, and look the other way when they are confronted with the truth. The very forces that are meant to provide safety–most notably the government, policemen, religious leaders, and parents–work in concert, either knowingly complicit or unwittingly, to foster this dangerous climate in Cambodia and other Asian countries where sexual slavery proliferates. And yet, human trafficking is not confined to Asia and the developing world. In fact, in a Newsweek editorial, the actor and activist Emma Thompson reveals that sexual slavery is prevalent in most Western countries, including the United States and the very section of London where she was raised. “Some 120 nations are routinely plundered by traffickers for their human raw materials, and more than 130 countries are known as destinations for their victims.” What do you think we can do as individuals to combat this issue, both at home and abroad? 

9. Why is it important to tell stories? Can you think of other true-life stories that had the effect of changing cultural attitudes? What books can you think of that have had an impact on society in the time they were published and served as agents of change? Do you think Somaly Mam’s memoir has the power to effect change on a global scale? 

10. In his foreword Kristof writes that Somaly’s “is a hopeful story. She may describe killings and torture, but the larger story is of triumph, love, and rehabilitation.” How does a story like Somaly’s, full of such unfathomable sadness, inspire hope? How has the experience of reading her story changed you? 

11. Ayaan Hirsi Ali writes in her introduction, “Somaly Mam is my candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize. She is living proof that one woman can change the fate of others.” Past recipients of the Nobel Peace Prize include Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Mother Teresa, His Holiness the Fourteenth Dalai Lama, and Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Do you think Somaly’s struggles and achievements are on par with those of these winners? 

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 68 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(38)

4 Star

(19)

3 Star

(6)

2 Star

(3)

1 Star

(2)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 68 Customer Reviews
  • Posted June 29, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Inspiring

    This heart wrenching story sends a strong message to the world about the protection of our children across the globe, especially girls. I read it almost three weeks ago, and still I keep going back to it, drawing from the author's personal account inspiration, enlightenment and a desire to act. I am in awe of Somaly's courage and perseverance, and know there are so many others out there who share her story.
    If you are reading this review, please consider purchasing the book. Proceeds from the book are used to support NGOs that work to prevent and stop human traficking. This is a great book for people of all ages, I highly recommend it.....

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 21, 2008

    Amazing Book!!

    This book touched my heart. I was reading a different book at the time, when I picked up this book and after two pages was completely captivated. This was truely a work of art and cannot be explained better than that.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted March 14, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Heart Wrenching

    This is a heart wrenching story to say the least. I often here about the sex slave trade in the media, but this gives an account of a survivor of the experience. While so many of the details are hard to digest, the book is equally as hard to put down. Somaly Mam shares both the horror and devastation she experienced as well as insight into the cultural factors that make this business so lucrative. She inspires hope for those imprisoned in this dark life. I encourage others to step into this dark world to see how one woman's story has brought about change in the lives of so many others.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted March 4, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    A good read

    I really wish this book was longer and gave more detail, I finished it wanting more for some reason. The story is amazing and it definitely gives one some perspective on life and how lucky we are. Somaly Mam is an inspiration for being as brave as she is and continuing to do what she does by helping women and giving them a chance to break free from the sex trade. It's eye-opening to learn about the conditions that these women have to endure and sad when you realize that what you are reading is a true account.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted February 5, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    This is a heartbreaking story.

    Review by Jill Williamson<BR/><BR/>I can¿t stop thinking about this book. First let me caution you, this book is graphic due to the subject matter, but I believe all older girls would benefit from reading it. The Road to Lost Innocence is not a fiction novel. It¿s a memoir, which is a true story of an author¿s life. The Road to Lost Innocence is the story of Somaly Mam, a Cambodian woman who was sold into slavery as a girl and later sold to a brothel. The village world she paints is fascinating. She didn¿t know what a fork was or that running water existed until she grew up. She shares how she managed to get away from her prison and how she went back to try and rescue girls from the life she once lived. <BR/><BR/>This is a heartbreaking story. I cried more than once. Human trafficking is beyond horrifying to read about, and this book will open your eyes to a bigger world. Girls are stolen or sold everyday, and not only in places like Cambodia or the Philippines. This happens everywhere including Canada and the US. If you are brave enough, this book will hopefully spur you toward action. It does get a bit graphic in parts, and I caution younger girls to ask their parents before reading it. I also urge you all to pray for Somaly Mam, her family, her ministry, and that she might find her creator, the one who loves her more than anything.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted November 14, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    Compelling Biography

    In her bio, Somaly Mam, (an activist who works in Cambodia to stop sex trafficking) speaks of her journey in life up to this point and her passions which drive her to help young women and girls who are sold in to prostitution. Once a sex slave herself, this story will pull at your heart in a way you never thought possible. Her story, and the stories of other girls in this book give a look in to the horrible and oppressive world of a sex slave and the difficulties that these young women have while trying to recover their lost childhoods and innocence. This book definitely woke up the sleeping activist in me and incites a will to fight to change the injustices in the world that young women face in countries that are run by mafia-like gangs who run a sex trafficking business that makes in income comparable to the Cambodian government. If you love reading stories of progress and activism, this is a must read!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 27, 2014

    Recommend only for readers with a specific interest in Cambodia

    Having a Cambodian granddaughter, I felt compelled to read this. Very difficult to read without being upset, especially as there is no conclusion. The horror continues. i bought a copy for my daughter and granddaughter to read.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 1, 2014

    Idiwifuwie

    Wgeggfyggykgfbth

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 26, 2013

    great read

    recommend it

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 25, 2013

    Everyone should read

    This memoir is so raw it will meke you hurt inside. It is totally worth it though. If nothing else, you will be able to feel as if your purchase, time committed, and awareness help other victims recover and prevent future stories such as this. So many people don't realize that this is still a very real issue that needs to be eradicated.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 24, 2012

    A must read!

    This book is a very eye opening story. It might be difficult for many people to start reading this book because it so graphic. Its horrible what happens to these women and girls, but i think its a very impotant book for every one to read. Its important for people to know whats happening to these women and i promise if you get through the book you will be inspired by this story.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted March 30, 2012

    Eye opener

    I never knew much about Cambodia and this personal story written by Somaly was eye opening. At first I was furious because of the torturous and very degrading behavior of men she speaks of, I didn't think I wanted to finish. I then felt that I owed it to her to finish, like it was the least I could do for her since she was so brave in writing the book.

    Then as I got 3/4 or so into the book, I felt it was a recruiting (for donations, help, volunteers, etc) tool.

    It is a fast read....only took me a few days to read. I am glad I read it because I learned a lot, I developed a sense of compassion for the women there and a lot of other places in similar situations.

    Sure we have our problems but we are so fortunate to be living here where we have to worry about whether the democrats or the republicans are going to run the country. These people don't know what it feels like to be loved, to have a family or to have respect and dignity.

    I have been describing this book as a horribly good book........horrible that these things happen and how they happen.....good in that everyone should read it. You should feel humbled and grateful when you're done.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 12, 2012

    Amazing

    This book is breathtaking. For me, it gave me a perspective of someone who has had hardships not many go through. The strength she possessed to making something so beautiful out of something so sad is magical. This novel has actually inspired me to join the Peace Corps.
    Bravo and many thanks to Somaly for being brave enough to becoming a literal "open Book"

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 18, 2012

    Amazing

    Truly inspiring book'

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 2, 2011

    amazing

    everyone must read it.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted June 2, 2011

    Mixed feelings

    I think what the author accomplished was amazing but something was missing for me in this book. I really didn't enjoy her writing style at all. Yes, the story is compelling and one that needs to be told but I wish her editors would have done a better job cleaning up the book. For example, I felt she stereotyped/judged different cultures (e.g. French) in the same breath she was defending the stereotypes of her tribe. Plus her writing was very repetitive.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted April 10, 2011

    amazing

    This book was so absolutely heartbreaking. I caught my self crying, not just tearing up, multiple times. if you like books that reveal the harsh truth, then this book is definitely for you. it is definitely not for the weak hearted though..

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted February 25, 2011

    Great book

    This really happening and will continue to happen to many women and child in south east asia...so sad.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted February 23, 2011

    the road of lost innocence

    this book is truly moving. i believe this woman has began a world wide movement that will help women in sex trafficking situations everywhere. this is a must read.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted January 27, 2011

    Fantastic Read

    This book is not only heart-breakingly sad, it gives a new appreciative look at American's ways of life. A quick and easy read. This book is very inspirational! Definately recommended.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 68 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)