Priceless tells the story of Stuart Daniels, a photojournalist sent on assignment to Russia. "Once there," says the synopsis on Amazon.com, "Daniels is persuaded by an old friend to help save two girls from a desperate situation. Soon he becomes a key player in a dangerous campaign to rescue helpless women trapped in the sex-slave trade. What Daniels encounters during his journey will shake his faith, test his courage, and even threaten his life. Yet as Daniels gets deeper and the stakes get higher, he will discover that hope can be found in the darkest of places."
I received a free copy of Priceless for the specific purpose of review. It was my hope to review the book for Burnside Writer's Collective, but Carole Turner beat me to it (and she provided a great review). Then my wife informed me that she wanted to read it, so I thought I'd wait to get her perspective before posting a review. As soon as she finished the book she was laboring through, she picked up Priceless and couldn't put it down. Three days later, we were sitting at the dinner table discussing the novel. And now I'm offering my thoughts here.
Priceless is a quick read. While the story is not a literary masterpiece, it's a great story that must be told. In some aspects, the references to popular culture leave the story feeling fixed and dated; but it is obvious that Davis' objective with this book is to deal with big, real issues in the here and now, rather than a classic novel that transcends time. He is dealing with real problems, real slavery, real horror, and his novel is not for entertainment, it's to stir hear from comfortable to action.
As I've contemplated the novel over the past couple weeks, I can't help but think about the appropriate response. This book does demand a response, but not the trendy, "let's talk about the sex-trade atrocities but do nothing" response that seems so prevalent today, especially among the young American church. I admit, I have done next to nothing to make a difference in this matter. I can't simply tweet about the the sex-trade on Craig's List to assuage my lack of actual action. I have to do more, so I pray, often. But I also need to do something that bleeds, not for the mere sake of social justice throughout the world, but out of love for Jesus Christ and my gratitude for his love for me. Tom Davis' novel has birthed something in my mind that seem unable to go away. Yes, it's that kind of book.
This novel puts me as close to the sex-trade industry as I have ever been, or ever want to be. It's believable. It's almost too real. I have not been to Russia, but the geography and history seemed credible, and certainly believable, too. I did run across one instance of mistaken terminology where a `revolver' turned into a semi-automatic handgun, complete with a magazine and slide, but this was a single minor occurrence and not representative of the book. Overall, I felt like I was there in Russia, cold and concerned, silently hoping for Stuart Daniels and the young girls he was trying to rescue. I could feel the cold, the evil.
The story is gut wrenching. Nobody should be able to read this story without feeling called to action at some level. The comfortable is not as comfortable after reading this book. I have been thinking about it for some time. Do I save my money and go overseas to smuggle girls away at the risk of my life? Do I raise money? Awareness? What do I do? Just as one would expect of Tom Davis, there are some ways to engage listed at the end of the book. Specifically, Davis encourages his readers to visit www.sheispriceless.com. As Tom always does with his books, he has provided some resources and action steps for those like me who feel compelled to action. (Honestly, I find it hard to believe anyone could read this book and then do nothing.)
I loved this book. Not because of the subject material, but because it exposed me to something we all need exposed to. Because it reminded me that we live in a world that needs Christians to be the hands and feet of Jesus. And maybe because it became a distraction from my schoolwork; like my wife, I couldn't put it down. I highly recommend. It is age appropriate for teenagers and above. Also, it would make a great choice for a book club. Pick up a copy today.
*As also stated in this review, I received a free copy of this book for the specific purpose of review. I was under no obligation to provide a positive review and I have no material connection to this novel.