Title: Naked by Stacey Trombley
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Genre: Contemporary, Young Adult
Length: 304 pages
Book Rating: B+
Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley
The best place to hide is in a lie…
I could never fit in to the life my parents demanded. By the time I was thirteen, it was too much. I ran away to New York City…and found a nightmare that lasted three years. A nightmare that began and ended with a pimp named Luis. Now I am Dirty Anna. Broken, like everything inside me has gone bad.
Except that for the first time, I have a chance to start over. Not just with my parents but at school. Still, the rumors follow me everywhere. Down the hall. In classes. And the only hope can see is in the wide, brightly lit smile of Jackson, the boy next door. So I lie to him. I lie to protect him from my past. I lie so that I don’t have to be The Girl Who Went Bad.
The only problem is that someone in my school knows about New York.
Someone knows who I really am.
And it’s just a matter of time before the real Anna is exposed…
Naked by Stacey Trombley is an emotional and poignant novel of redemption. This young adult story about a teenage runaway who is reunited with her family is heartbreaking yet ultimately uplifting. A riveting read that I highly recommend to readers of ALL ages.
After living in New York for three years, sixteen year old runaway Anna Rodriguez is reunited with her parents. Her homecoming is fraught with tension as her parents tiptoe around her life as a teenage prostitute. Her hopes are high that her controlling father will finally allow her the freedom to stretch her wings but his disgust is palpable and he still tries to exert control over her. Her parents insist she return to “normal” life as soon as possible which means she means she is forced to begin school immediately. At school, Anna is subjected to the stares of her classmates whose whispered insults just add to the self-loathing she feels about her past. The high point of Anna’s day is art class which provides her with an escape from her everyday life as she immerses herself in drawing. Another bright spot in her day is the time she spends with Jackson Griffin, a fellow student (and next door neighbor) who befriends her and defends her when their peers continue to spread gossip and innuendo about her.
Anna is a very sympathetic and likable protagonist. While running away was not the best decision, she had good reason to escape from her family. Her father is very strict and controlling in addition to being physically and emotionally abusive. Her once close relationship with her mother grew strained when she grew tired of her mother’s inability to stand up to her husband and protect Anna. Anna’s rebellion went unnoticed by her parents and they had no idea their daughter was sneaking out of the house to meet boys and party. While by no means innocent, Anna’s naiveté was no match for what awaited her in New York and she quickly fell victim to Luis, whom she viewed as her boyfriend and protector, while in reality, he was her pimp.
Some of Anna’s fears about her return to her parents do come to fruition. Her father has not changed but there are positive improvements with her relationship with her mom. Although her father works long hours, he continues to try to restrict her activities, but Anna stands up for herself and her mom often backs her up. The tense situation continues to escalate but will her mom find the strength to come between father and daughter?
In spite of the rumors that are circulating about her, Anna tries to keep her past hidden and her struggle to overcome her shame and loathing is absolutely heart wrenching. Her inability to see the truth about Luis is SO frustrating but it is easy to understand her reasons for believing he acted in good faith. This part of the storyline is very realistic and provides incredible insight into her past. Anna continues to grow and evolve throughout the novel and it is very inspiring to watch her offer assistance to others despite how badly she has been treated by them.
Despite the difficult subject matter, Naked is a remarkably upbeat and positive novel about overcoming adversity and not letting the past define the present or future. Stacey Trombley presents a compassionate and realistic portrayal of teenage prostitution in a thought-provoking and forthright manner. A bittersweet and cautionary novel of healing that I highly recommend to readers of all ages.