By Chelsea Rahiman
Hidden Girl: The True Story of a Modern-Day Child Slave
By Shyima Hall (with Lisa Wysocky)
Simon & Schuster, 240 Pages
Hidden Girl: The True Story of a Modern-Day Child Slave is a compelling and eye opening memoir about Shyima Hall, a former child slave. When we think of slavery most people think back to early American history and the Civil War. However, what many of us fail to realize is that slavery is still prevalent throughout the world. Hall was sold into slavery by her impoverished parents at the age of eight and describes her many years of servitude.
Hall was born into a poor family in Egypt; she lived with her parents and eleven siblings. She describes her life before entering slavery as “happy” and “good”, this is despite the fact that her brothers inappropriately took advantage of her when she was as young as five, and she spent most of days cooking, cleaning, and washing clothes.
When her parents sold her into slavery her mother’s last words to her were “be strong”. That’s exactly what she did. Hall spent years enslaved while working for a wealthy family in Cairo, Egypt. Hall worked long, hard hours restlessly trying to please her cruel captors, who referred to her as “stupid girl”.
Her captors eventually moved to California and smuggled her with them, where she continued serving them for years. She spent 20 hours a day for 7 days a week, cooking, cleaning, and taking care of the kids. She wasn’t educated, taught English, or even given more than one meal per day. This was until a neighbor called to report something suspicious. Hall was then discovered and freed.
Hall is the epitome of strength, determination, and endurance. This is shown in the test which states “… I did start to cry, and when I started, I couldn’t stop… it had been a long time since anyone had treated me nicely or with respect… My captors’ home had been filled with fear, abuse, hatred- and constantly physical, mental, and emotional battles” (page 79).
Despite this Hall went on to finishing high school, becoming a US citizen and she aspires to be either a police officer or an Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agent. She uses her unfortunate experience to raise awareness for human trafficking, in hopes of saving others from having to endure the traumatic events that she did.
I highly recommend this book for teenagers because it is engaging and fascinating. More importantly however, I urge readers to read this book because it exposes the disturbing realities of the world we live in today. So many other enslaved people throughout the world share Hall’s emotional and heartbreaking experiences. Realizing this helps us understand that the world isn’t perfect and it will never be, but that doesn’t mean we should ever stop trying to fix it and make it better. After reading the text I also felt a deeper appreciation for the life that I have. Many people don’t have the basic necessities that we take for granted every day.