Last month, I found myself in the fortunate situation of attending the annual Society of Children’s Bookwriters and Illustrators (SCBWI) conference in Los Angeles. I also had the more fortunate opportunity, in a post-conference workshop, to find myself sitting next to Newbery Award-winner Susan Patron. When such an author (who’s also an esteemed librarian) highly recommends a book, you find a copy right away.
If that hadn’t happened, I might never have picked up Dime by E.R. Frank because:
1. I tend to read more middle grade books; it’s what I write;
2. The book covers difficult subject matter; I knew reading it be hard.
But I sucked it up, and once I read the first several pages, I wasn’t going to let anything stop me from finishing. That includes the fact that by the last quarter of the book, thanks to astigmatic eyes, the words were dancing all over the pages. I needed to know what happened. I needed to know that these girls would be some-sort-of all right.
Dime is a brutal, unflinching look at child prostitution. At the heart of this book is 13-year-old, book-loving Dime, a victim of a broken foster care situation, a girl who only wants to be loved. She runs away to a family of wifeys and to Daddy who grooms her into a life of prostitution. Dime tells us her story as she tries to find the right words to include in a note, the purpose of which we don’t find out until the end. Along the way, we begin to understand how situations of child prostitution and human trafficking can exist in society. E.R. Frank has taken great care to craft a novel that rings with such truth, devastation, and hope, it will linger with me for decades.
(This review is part of Barrie Summy’s Book Club. If you’re my typical 3rd-6th grade reader, please note that you might not be ready for this book yet.)