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Books

Writer Sharon G. Flake Highlights Human Trafficking and Survivors in "The Skin I'm In"

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In 1998, author Sharon G Flake wrote the novel The Skin I’m In. Aimed at young adults, it told the story of 13 year-old Maleeka Madison: tall, skinny, and dark-skinned--she struggles against the burden of low self-esteem that many black girls face when they're darker skinned. To make her life easier, Maleeka befriends the toughest girl in school, Charlese Jones, who only makes life harder for Maleeka until she finally learns to stand up for herself and love the skin she’s in.

Twenty-two years later, Sharon G. Flake has just written a sister novel to this modern classic. It’s called The Life I’m In -- Sharon’s answer to fans who have been wondering what happened to her character, bully Charlese “Char” Jones. Char is failing in school, her home life is tenuous--still in grief over her parents’ death, while her older sister struggles to care for them both. Char is sent to live with her grandparents, but on the bus ride there she is befriended by a young mother who leads Char into the terrifying world of sex trafficking. The Life I’m In is not an easy read--the physical and mental abuse that Char experiences may be traumatic for some readers, but it is an important novel--at its heart is a story of strong girls and survival.