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Reviewed by Viga Boland for Readers' Favorite
When it comes to issues like abuse and sex trafficking, we can choose to bury our heads in the sand and hope it will all go away, or we can decide to learn what we can about it. Unfortunately, while we might not be able to eradicate it, as parents, teachers and members of caring communities, we can at least educate and enlighten our young people regarding their own susceptibility to sex traffickers. That’s why a book like The Robber of Youth by Keith Julius should be read, not just by adults, but by teens who, apart from very young children, are so vulnerable to these greedy, despicable predators. Rosie, a 15-year-old, loses her only real friend, her brother, in a tragic accident. In her own grief, Rosie’s mother kicks the teen out of their poor, dirty home. Rosie is placed in foster care but still feels homeless, alienated. When, over a period of weeks, a good-looking guy shows her kindness and suggests she can have a better life on her own, she trusts him. What happens after that is what no teen should endure.
The Robber of Youth is written in a way to alert, not frighten youth. What they will read is realistic, but not overly graphic. The book also highlights the work of the CASA, Case Appointed Special Advocates who work with teens like Rosie. Their dedicated involvement is heart-warming. Along the way, Julius informs readers of the difficult task facing police and others trying to locate and help victims. The author has chosen to alternate book scenes between Rosie, her mother, the case worker Melanie Cox, “Slick”, the sex trafficker, and the detective who first investigated the accidental death of Rosie’s brother. This writing style keeps the pace moving. Readers don’t have time to become bored. Keith Julius only describes as much as is needed for full comprehension. While this book is classified as literary fiction, think of it as young adult social issues and/or coming of age. An important, worthwhile read.