Twisted - Lola Smirnova (2014)

Julia Lazar, a young woman living in post-Soviet Ukraine, is struggling to survive (along with the rest of the country). When she and her sisters hear their friend's stories of how to make quick money dancing in Luxembourg cabarets, they jump at the chance for a better life. Eager and naive, they set off to make a better life for themselves. Their idealistic hopes and dreams are dashed when they discover that their new jobs require a whole lot more than dancing: they're officially part of the European sex trade. This story is written in a similar style to Good Fellas or Wolf on Wall Street, where the narrator takes a moment to explain some history or background information, which I found fascinating. It was interesting to note that the ladies were only allowed to keep a fifth of their earnings, what everyday life is like in a brothel, the things they think about, what's important to them. It was a very honest (and often graphic) introduction to the world of a sex trade worker. The content is explicit, often describing the "twisted' things Julia was paid (or forced) to do. I think if you keep an open mind and understand the "whys" and "hows" of how she got into her situation, you will see Julia and her sisters with compassion. (CK)

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