Title: Little Peach (2015)
Author: Peggy Kern
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Extent: 208 pages
Review: Thrown out by her drug-addicted mother, fourteen-year-old Michelle runs off to New York, hoping to find an old friend she could stay with. Instead she meets Devon—charming, well-dressed and seemingly kind—who offers her a home, just as long as she does as he says and works for him towards a better future for all of them. From then on, he becomes her ‘Daddy’ and she his ‘Little Peach’.
Little Peach is definitely not your typical contemporary YA book. It’s really short at only 208 pages, it has nothing to do with high school or assignments, and it deals with a terrifyingly real issue: child prostitution. I knew this going in, and yet I wasn’t prepared for the uneasy feeling I had sitting in the pit of my stomach as I read on. That’s a good thing, I think.
Michelle tells this story from multiple points in her life: the present, where she’s sitting in a hospital wanting to reach out to a woman assigned to her case, and the past, before, during and after she lost her innocence. Kern’s writing style is what I would call minimalistic: her sentences are short, her dialogue just barely enough to get the point across, her descriptions without much fluff. Ordinarily this would bother me, but for some reason, it really worked as Michelle’s voice—it made the scenes faster, darker and more intense, and it made Michelle as a character so broken, so sympathetic.
The characters we’re introduced to are well-developed. We never really did get to know many of them due to the nature of Michelle’s profession, but what’s on the pages are enough for me to feel for them, to put myself in their shoes. Other than Devon, Michelle lives with two other girls: an older girl called Kat and a twelve-year-old who calls herself Baby, both of who were also struggling with their own problems.
My only complaint with Little Peach was that it was too short and sparse, and I would have loved to read more of Michelle’s life: before, after, and particularly during. Instead, the story reads like a series of snapshots, a really, really brief overview of what happened in Michelle’s life. A lot happened, but most of the time there weren’t enough detail to really paint a clear picture, so I’d often have to put two and two together myself.
Little Peach was raw, unflinching and honest. From the start it was captivating and kept me at the edge of my seat, wanting the best for Michelle and yet knowing that things were most probably about to worsen first before it could get better. There wasn’t really much of an ending, too, which I think actually brought the story together instead of undid its strengths. It made things heartbreakingly realistic, because in real life, sometimes that’s just it. That’s all you get.
Recommended for those who’s in the mood for something darker.