Harrowing, intense and frighteningly real.
This book sheds light on the dark and vexatious reality of sex trafficking. The story itself… one of survival in the face of paralyzing fear,
of pain that cuts so deep that it permanently scars, and of finding hope
and love in order to begin the difficult process of healing.
A bold and striking debut novel from Jack Wilder.
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Ex-Navy SEAL Stone Pressfield has a bad feeling about the proposed church missions trip to Manila, Philippines. The college-age church group plans to go to Manila and help victims of the sex-trafficking industry. Stone’s lingering nightmare memories about the sex-trafficking industry have him warning church leaders that the trip is a bad idea. He knows all too well that it could end in violence, and those involved aren’t to be trifled with.
When beautiful Wren Morgan goes missing, he has a sick feeling that he knows exactly who took her, and for what purpose. The problem is, Wren isn’t just any other student. She’s someone he’s close to, someone he cares about. Now she’s in the hands of cruel, evil men, and Stone is the only one who can rescue her before the unthinkable happens.
“She focused on her physical senses: sight, smell, taste, touch and sound. She could see nothing, not even shadows within shadows. Smell… the stink around her was so clotted she could taste it. Touch? The surface benath her was uneven and gritty. Dirt perhaps. There were sounds, now that she focused. The distant caw of a seagull, the fain amorphous din of a city… Then there was a sixth sense. Or perhaps it was emotion, or memory. Fear. Not just the simple too-fast thumping of her heart and clenching of her stomach. no, this was deeper, powerful beyond comprehension. This was pure unadulterated terror.”
What a daring piece of work from Jack Wilder. Such a harrowing story of a girl whose life is irrevocably changed when she is brutally taken and held captive by sex traffickers in Manila. Wren Morgan goes from a missionary driven to help others to a victim herself, beaten and drugged in order to break her body, her spirits and her hope. Wilder’s description of her dark and derelict surroundings are vivid, her fear is palpable, making it even tougher to process the reality in which Wren finds herself.
“Fear keeps you alert. It keeps you alive. If you’re afraid, you’re still fighting to stay alive.”
With her future unknown, and innately knowing that she will be raped, she holds on to a shred of lingering hope that Stone Pressfield will save her. Stone traveled with her group on the mission trip, despite his incessant warnings for them not to go. Stone is also the man she has feelings for, but he has yet to express his feelings and show interest. Stone does feel, however. He is hardened, pragmatic, hiding behind a steel facade built to show the pain he carries. He’s an ex-Navy seal who knows Manila all too well. So well in fact, that violent memories and frightening nightmares continue to haunt him.
“I’ve never found any answers. I learn to sleep at night, over time. I try to accept that what happened, happened, and nothing I can do can change it.”
What ensues is an action-packed, nail-biting traipse through the dangerous and dirty streets of Manila. With everything that was happening, I was almost nervous to flip the page and see what I was to experience next. The feelings that consume Wren are heart-breaking and I couldn’t help but feel so crushed when I thought of so many real girls actually experiencing these things as I read.
“All of it came up and out. Sobbing wasn’t really the word for it. It was something beyond sobbing. It was the sound of a soul being shattered, of terror and pain finally being given true vent.”
Know that this is not an easy read. It’s shocking and intense. You will read about things that make you uncomfortable… sick to your stomach. Nonetheless, it’s important to shed more light on the subject and I applaud Jack Wilder for urging readers to try and make a difference. At the very least, this taboo subject matter certainly made the book different from what most are currently reading. For me, for some reason, I kept thinking I wanted to read this book in third person narrative… somehow feeling that it would push me more emotionally. Regardless, it was a really great book, one that was hard to get through, but simultaneously, one I couldn’t put down. I look forward to seeing what’s next from the Wilder duo!