Friday, March 17, 2023

Kari and Tracy by John Benton

From the back cover of Kari:

After being raped and beaten by her brutal stepfather, sixteen-year-old Kari Allensworth left home.  And like millions of naive runaways before her, she wound up on California's notorious Sunset Strip with no money and no destination.  Confused, scared, and lonely, she became easy prey for Paco, a flashy pimp who showered the love-starved Kari with compassion and kindness.  But the mask of concern quickly slipped away, revealing a ruthless, cold-blooded killer. 

Paco forced Kari out onto the streets as a hooker and made her his slave by demanding all of her earnings in exchange for her life.  Caught in the degrading world of prostitution and drug trafficking, it looked as though there were no means of escape.  Then one night a woman handed Kari a novel about another prostitute who found deliverance and unconditional love.  Would Kari choose the only way out—or remain enslaved to prostitution forever?

Content:  rape, physical violence, abduction, murder, drug use

Kari is present during two murders.  While Benton has Kari turn her back and not look, she still hears what happens.  The reader can imagine the details despite the minimal description.  These scenes are disturbing even without the details, especially because of the lengthy leadup to each murder.  Both victims know what is going to happen, and the reader knows as well.

Kari has very good reason to run away from home; she has no choice.  Her mother has just married a simply awful man who rapes her the first time he is alone at home with her.  Kari tells her mother, who doesn't believe her.  Kari's stepfather makes it clear that he will get back at her the next time the two of them are alone.  How horrible.

Augie was not compelling because of Augie's stupidity.  He had no reason to turn to crime.  Kari is a victim all the way, and her descent into crime happens as a result of her having no place to go.

This is an excellent book.

From the back cover of Tracy:

Beautiful but belligerent, seventeen-year-old Tracy Hauptly picked pockets to support her drug habit.  Severely beaten by her father and in deep trouble with a vengeful pickpocket victim, Tracy ran away from home and moved in with a friend named Hector.  He set her up as a drug runner for his friend Raul.  When Raul tried to frame Tracy for a junkie's violent death, she managed to escape.  She started to work as a runner for Hector's cousin, until narcotics agents broke up his operation. 

Caught in the deathly trap of addiction, Tracy resorted to prostitution in order to buy drugs.  In time, she was sent to prison, where the horrors of her life and of those around her drove her to the brink of ending it all.  Through her wild experiences and close brushes with death, Tracy finally discovered the way to straighten out her life.  Tracy shows you that God's love is powerful enough to destroy the death trap of sin and create a new life with joy and purpose.

Content:  drug use, physical assault, prostitution, suicide

The front cover depicts a scene from the book, although not completely accurately.  Tracy is given a stack of cards to give to junkies who want to purchase drugs.  When a junkie arrives, Tracy gets in their car and gives them a card.  They drive down an alley to a hole in the wall of one of the tenements.  The card and money are placed in a small basket, which is pulled inside.  The drugs are placed in the basket and pushed outside to the junkie.  In the book, the hole in the wall is about the size of a brick, so it's very small.

This is a very good book.

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