Fifteen Lanes by S.J. Laidlaw
Star Rating: ★★★3/4
This is a really, really important book. It gives you a view of what it’s really like to live in the red light district in India. I really want to visit there now and join an organization to help these young girls escape from their fate of working in the sex industry like their mothers.
“‘There is a whole world of possibilities beyond our fifteen lanes. Don’t you want more for yourself?”
This book follows two girls, Noor and Grace. Let’s start with Noor, since I think her story is the most important:
“‘How much for the girl?’ he demanded.
‘She’s not yet working.’
‘I’d pay a lot for a fresh girl.'”
Noor is the daughter of a sex worker living in Mumbai’s red light district. She is fourteen years old, yet has already seen more than most people could imagine. In the brothel, she has close-tied bonds with other women working there and with her two younger siblings. She knows that she will end up like her mother as a sex worker unless she can find a way out of the fifteen lanes.
Grace, on the other hand, lived a life opposing to Noor’s. Her father is a wealthy CEO, she goes to a good school, and lives in luxury. After her family relocates to Mumbai, Grace is heartbroken over having to leave behind all her friends and start fresh. She becomes targeted by a group of mean girls who send a picture of her to the whole school. They treat her horribly and bully her to no extent. Grace suffers from depression because of these girls.
“My image on the Internet would be an eternal reminder. The bullying wasn’t going to stop. The only way to end it was if I ended it.”
The two girls meet through a program to help daughters of sex workers, and both girls lives are changed forever.
This book has such an important message, I want everyone to read it. So many people take their good, privileged lives for granted. This book made me think about my life in a whole new perspective and I think it would for others, too. I agree with other reviewers who have said that this book should come with a trigger warning because it contains a lot about rape and depression. The writing may not have been very good, but I think you have to focus on the message. The only reason I didn’t give it four stars was because the writing wasn’t good.
From the author’s note:
“…there are an estimated 15 million people in India who have been trafficked into sex work. More than a third are children, some as young as nine years old, sold into sexual slavery to satisfy an increasing demand for younger girls. Daughters of sex workers are at particular risk.”
Please note that all quotations used in this review were taken from an advanced reader’s copy. I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Here is a link to my review on Goodreads.