A Walk Across the Sun
True crime meets literary fiction with a powerful kick to the stomach and the opening of the heart.
Lawyer and human rights activist Corban Addison steps astutely and brazenly into the writing world, delivering a story that navigates cross-cultural romance, family devotion, grief, loss, and modern day slavery into an exciting, disturbing, and provocative tale about surviving the impossible and believing beyond hope.
Two Indian teenage sisters (Ahalya and Sita Ghai) have their world literally washed away when their entire family is killed by a tsunami and they are sold as sex slaves to a man in Bombay.
Just when you think their lives cannot get any worse, they do. Thomas Clarke’s life as an up and coming lawyer in Washington D.C. is falling apart with the recent death of his daughter and his Indian wife Priya, leaving him alone and returning to India.
The way in which these characters’ lives eventually intersect and how their perspectives on life and death evolve are entirely believable in A Walk Across the Sun.
Nothing in this story feels contrived or out of place.
Each character struggles to survive the circumstances they find themselves in. Ahalya and Sita have no control over or voice in what happens to them, but Thomas and Priya are privileged with both choice and the means to manifest their deepest intentions—once they have figured out what those intentions are.
Though Ahalya and Sita are bought and sold for sex (as are thousands of girls and boys throughout the world), it is clear that it is about violence, control and profit. Sex is the conduit by which those that buy and sell others make their money.
By contrasting the love story between Thomas and Priya, the unbreakable devotion and tenderness between the sisters, and those engaging in sex for personal pleasure and profit, Mr. Addison distinctly defines and shows readers the difference between love, passion, and compassion versus sex for sex’s sake (at the expense of another’s wellbeing), without exhibiting any need to delve into a philosophical or theoretical discussion.
There is no ambiguity about rape and the use of the young for profit. Rape is rape.
It is a rare find to discover a work of fiction opening readers’ eyes to an existing horror with such precision and insight. A Walk Across the Sun is such a story.
Providing a treasure chest of prose, culture, nuance, insight, despair, and hope, A Walk Across the Sun is the kind of literature that should be celebrated and honored.
Don’t let this gem slip through your fingers. It will affect you long after you’ve read the last word.
Read more of Gabriel’s reviews at New York Journal of Books.