Book Review: Girls Like Us


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“A father to the fatherless,

A defender of widows

Is God in His holy dwelling.

God sets the lonely in families,

He leads forth the prisoners with singing . . . . “

Psalm 68:5-6


In her memoir, Girls Like Us, Rachel Lloyd quotes the psalm in her chapter on healing. Lloyd was a commercially sexually exploited child who is now the Founder & Executive Director of the Girls Education & Mentoring Service (GEMS), which offers services to other commercially sexually exploited girls.   Lloyd’s been healed, and now offering healing to the girls in her program.


It’s hard to heal someone if you cannot name the injury.  The injury is commercial sexual exploitation.  Before advocates like Lloyd and others came on the scene, the misdiagnosis was called prostitution.   “Prostitute” conjures up the image of a grown woman who “chose” to prostitute herself, is immoral or amoral, and is destined for a bad life.  Sex-trafficking abolitionists like Lloyd, however, argue that “commercially sexually exploited children” (CSEC) is the accurate term. 


Using her past and the experiences other CSECs, Lloyd vividly illustrates the life of a CSEC.  She talks about life before becoming a CSEC, how CSECs enter the life, what keeps them in the life, how they get out, what helps to heal them of their past, and how they can chart out new lives for themselves, fulfilling God’s purposes for them.


Girls is good reading for everyone, including teens.  It’s readable, relevant and accessible to everyone.  Despite containing graphic and disturbing images, Girls is a good way for parents to engage their children in a conversation about uncomfortable subjects – healthy relationships, sex, drugs, “appropriate” touch, etc. 


Girls is a hard and necessary read, for Christians.  God demands that His people love their neighbors as themselves, which means being in a healing & affirmative relationship with other people.  Lloyd talks about the Christian community that “loved me back to life”.  Unfortunately, before she got to that community, she encountered plenty of people, including police officers & social workers, who only showed her disdain, judgment, distrust, and hostility.  Girls is a hard and necessary read for Christian professionals, especially those who work in human services, youth & family services, workforce development, and criminal justice.


Through Girls Like Us (ISBN#978-0-06-158206-6), we also see Rachel Lloyd’s transformation from commercially sexually exploited child to a woman who is an author, educator, mentor and service provider.  As she sat on her stoop on a sweltering summer night, trying to think of a name for her dream organization, Isaiah came to her mind.  And GEMS was born.


“O afflicted city, lashed by storms and not comforted,

I will build you with stones of turquoise,

your foundations with sapphires.

I will make you battlements of rubies,

your gates of sparkling jewels,

and all your walls of precious stones.

All your sons will be taught by the Lord,

and great will be your children’s peace.”

Isaiah 54:11-13

BOW is my first experience in blogging, and my writing has undergone an evolution since I started. I use If I Knew Then What I Know Now to think aloud about my Christian walk. When you read it, my hope is that WE (the BOW community & friends) then discuss how to apply God's word into our everyday lives in a practical manner. As Christian lay-theologians, we'll talk about our world, and how we can be in it but not of it. So whatever your thoughts are about what you read, PLEASE share.
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