Apr 13, 2011
by April Hedrick

Renting Lacy, A book review

Have you ever wondered who that teenage girl is you saw leaning through the passenger car window obviously negotiating with a potential “john”? What’s her story? How did she end up doing this instead of going to school and the mall and worrying about what to wear to the school dance?

Obviously everybody’s story is unique but there is a lot of commonality with prostituted girls. It’s that story which is told in Renting Lacy. The story of a few different girls trafficked in different ways but with common factors putting them at risk, pulling them in and holding them in a life of prostitution.

There is a warning on the book’s cover that the content is adult in nature. I never thought I’d read a book with that disclaimer. And I never thought I’d read a book with the word “ho” used so frequently. (in quoting the characters in the book) I never thought I’d read a book that showed the underworld of prostitution in all it’s ugliness. But I did. Renting Lacy is offensive but that is it’s intent. Sex for profit, the victimization of women, children, and men too, should offend us because it is an offense to the dignity of individuals.

The book was written by Linda Smith, founder of Shared Hope International. For years her work was focused overseas, but then her eyes opened to the domestic problem. She wrote this book to help the rest of us grasp the ugly reality of sex trafficking in our neighborhoods. The title of the book refers to Lacy. Lacy is the name Linda Smith gives to a prostituted girl. And “renting” is quite appropriate for paying a human being for some time of doing whatever you want to her or him.

The story is a combination of real stories woven into narratives. Interspersed are some general statistics and explanations. As someone very familiar with the subject I can’t say that any of the “facts” were new to me. For example, I know that girls are often lured by men who befriend them and psychologically manipulate them. I know that there is a book on how to get a girl to become your “ho” (girl who prostitutes herself under authority of a pimp who oftentimes keeps all of the money).

Of course it’s one thing to have a piece of data in your head and another thing to become acquainted with a girl who is living that reality. To see her ensnared and still feeling love for the pimp who now owns her; still believing his lies that doing this for him is temporary and someday they’ll have the American dream- be married and financially set. To see her reject her own family for a life of alcohol, drugs, and being rented out to do the unthinkable with men who see her as merely an object to use however they want.

The book uses ugly language and paints ugly pictures to more accurately describe what is uncomfortable to think about. (The foul, crude language is not used gratuitously and the author said it was greatly toned down.) Is it worth reading? I say “yes”. We all cringe to read about atrocities like the Holocaust but I think most of us would agree it is important we know about it. And that is a part of history. How much more should we know about something currently happening in our world, undoubtedly closer to us than we might think.

I hope you will read it and share your reaction to Renting Lacy here and with your friends and family. I challenge you to be willing to know what is going on even though it’s hard to stomach. Who knows where this knowledge will lead?

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