See Me Not:
Finding a good read in the universe of self-published books is a prodigious task. In 2011 alone their number reached about 2.7 million titles. The cruel truth about their majority is that they have value only to their authors. And yet, there are a few, which make an enjoyable reading. Thanks to Twitter I have discovered one of them: See Me Not by Real Laplaine, sold on Amazon.com. It is about saving a twelve years old girl, who was sold by her father to a criminal gang, which business is slave prostitution.
Being a work of fiction, See Me Not nonetheless depicts the reality, which is closer to us than we think. And yet, most of us do not see it, as it is beyond the boundaries of our established way of life and notions of permissible.
In spite of the gruesome subject, the reading is not depressing. Written in elegant prose, it is not only about the ills of humanity, but also about hope and optimism which, as the novella suggests, should be part of our lives no matter what.
The story is narrated by an American university student, who is on vacation in India. A local Calcutta friend, in an attempt to surprise the American with an exotic pleasure, takes him to a brothel, where 8-12 years old girls are kept as slave prostitutes.
Before his vacation, the American student knew about the existence of child prostitution, but it was an abstract knowledge about something as remote as another universe. Witnessing it personally though is different. For him it is a psychological shock, the nightmare haunting him day and night. The student decides to do whatever it takes to free the girl he saw in the brothel.
As an author of fiction and non-fiction on the subject matter I consider myself fairly knowledgeable in the field of human trafficking and slave prostitution. Nevertheless, I read See Me Not with interest. Not only had I discovered something new about India and child slavery, but I enjoyed the way the story was told. It is sprinkled with author’s remarks, both witty and elegant, such as this:
“I think that reality is a hotel that everyone needs to check into once in a while.”
Descriptions of sceneries are charming and vivid. That’s how Calcutta emerges in the novella. “The air was tuned with the muted sounds of humanity. The chatter of cooking utensils, the murmur of children and adults speaking from their dwellings and domains, all of it formed a symphony; a background melody, which made me feel more at ease, as I waited there, hunkered in the dark.”
Overall, it is a good thriller. I give it 4 stars.