Batya and her family flee their hometown in the Russian countryside, the only survivors of another pogrom. After pushing their belongings through the countryside and living off the kindness of others, a wealthy foreign Jewish man, Reb Moskowitz enters the family's life and takes an interest in 14 year-old Batya. Moskowitz offers Batya's father money for her betrothal to him and promises her plenty of food, a nice home and a fortune in America. However, Batya quickly learns that Moskowitz is not the good man he portrays. Batya is sold into prostitution in Buenos Aires, Argentina. After being abused, locked up, tortured and starved, Batya comes to terms with her predicament and focuses on survival. She becomes a sought out girl in her brothel and is trusted by Moskowitz. Batya's hopes are focused on bringing her family over from Russia and a mysterious new client may help Batya escape slavery and saver her family.
I absolutely adore historical fiction that is able to open my eyes to a period of history that I knew nothing about. I was certainly not aware of the very long time span that prostitution was legal in Argentina and fueled by the Zwi Migdal, a ring of Jewish men and women who kidnapped young girls and widows for their own profit. The writing deftly portrays the horror as well as the hope in Batya's story. It was obvious that the author delved into the research of this hidden history, from the way Batya was lured away from her family, to the conditions on her journey to Argentina and how she was treated in the brothel to the rhythms, dances and food in Buenos Aires, everything was reflective of the experience of the women and the time period. I was very interested in how involved the Zwi Migdal was in Argentinian politics and culture and just how hard it was to bring them down. I was amazed at Batya's bravery helping to provide evidence against Moskowitz in kidnapping women and especially the real woman, Raquel Liberman who risked it all to save other women from her fate.
This book was received for free in return for and honest review.