Of all the themes in the Cherub series human trafficking is one of those topics that pushes my buttons. So you might think it strange that I chose to post about that at this time of the year, what with Christmas only a few days away. In some ways though I think now is a perfect time to think about things like this.
I live in a prosperous country and have a roof over my head, a job, friends, clothes and food. People that get swept into the complex world of people smuggling often don’t have the luxuries afforded to me. Those that are smuggled at any rate. Those that do the smuggling in many ways live possibly as well or better than I do.
I don’t claim to understand more than a fraction of this complex issue but what I know makes me angry and sad. I am angry that the world we live in has such horrid violations against decency and it makes me sad that so many people are in a position to be taken advantage of.
The people smuggling in People’s Republic focuses on illegal workers ending up in sweat shop conditions rather than the more high profile sex trade but without a question both these issues are tragic and important.
As in Cherub the issue is wider than most of us will ever think about and there is no easy solution. Any smuggling operation like this, is a chain and cutting off one head will more than likely not just result in someone else popping up to fill the void.
I guess really then the question I should ask, before I continue to rant on the topic, is ‘do issues like this have a place in young adult fiction?’
I know there are many who think our youth don’t need to know about all these things but the truth is they do. Young people talk about all sorts of things, they are aware of what is going on in the world, or at least some of them are. Teenagers shouldn’t be underestimated, their interests and passions are as varied as those in any given group of adults.
Books like the Cherub series address the darker issues of our society, and our teenagers face some of these things everyday. Admittedly most won’t have contact with anything to do with people smuggling but influences such as drugs, cults and gangs? Well in my opinion we would be naïve to think otherwise. As far as I can see the Cherub books are interesting stories, I enjoy reading them, the adventure and action. I have problems with the way characters like James treat women, but then the women have the ability to kick his butt – though with Kerry constantly going back to him…well that says things I would like to talk about but this is not the forum for that.
The other thing is if you are so inclined these books can springboard topics of discussion or research. Books that include such topics give us the opportunity to look at things we would sometimes prefer not to look at too closely and sometimes awareness is vital in dealing with issues like these.
So then yes, I believe there is a place in young adult fiction to broach such delicate and inflaming topics.