Sunday, March 10, 2013
by Roberta Gately
Gallery Books 2012
318 pages Fiction
The Bracelet by Roberta Gately is a fictionalized look at the serious problem of human trafficking through the eyes of a UN nurse in Pakistan. Abby needed a big change; a romance that she had depended upon was over. Hurt and angry, the idea of working for the UN for a while seemed like a good idea. Get away. Make a fresh start.
Her first assignment is Peshawar Pakistan where she is to evaluate an immunization clinic for UNICEF. Before she arrived in Pakistan, she spent a period of time in Geneva training for the positing. The time in Geneva, however, was marred by a murder Abby saw committed as she was out running, and the vision of that murder haunts her nightly after she arrives in Peshawar. Her dreams seem to focus on the beautiful bracelet worn by the murder victim.
The UN house in Peshawar is in a nice neighborhood; it is staffed by a young Afghan woman, Najeela, and a housekeeper named Hana. Shortly after Abby arrives at the posting she meets Najeela's unsavory uncle, the staff of the immunization clinic at a refugee camp, and a New York Times reporter named Nick. Nick is in Pakistan ostensibly to interview Abby as a UN relief worker, but his main interest is the rampant human trafficking that is taking place in the country. He introduces Abby to the woman who runs a half-way house for trafficking victims, and Abby gets involved in helping the women at the half-way house. All is not as it seems, however, and Abby and Nick barely escape Pakistan with their lives.
Roberta Gately is knowledgeable about human trafficking and UN refugees because she worked as a nurse in several war torn countries. It is obvious that she knows a lot about the situations presented in the book, and she writes in an engaging style that keeps you reading. The plot is serviceable, but the plot is not the main reason for the novel. This is a message novel, plain and simple. Gately is trying to get out the message that human trafficking is one of the world's dirty little secrets, and while things are being done to combat it, there is a great deal of money to be made in many of the countries of the world. She indicates that government officials in many countries and even the UN are on the take, turning a blind eye to the trafficking right under their noses. The stories of the victims in the pages of The Bracelet are heart rending, and they are the important part of the novel--not the plot or the romance. The Bracelet should be read with that in mind.
Recently there have been efforts in West Michigan to identify human trafficking in our area. Michigan State University is spearheading a task force to work on the problem and alert the citizens to the problem as it appears in Michigan. You can find a link to the task force here.
This is Gately's second novel, the first Lipstick in Afghanistan was published in 2010. She recently wrote an article about how she turned to fiction writing, which you can find here.
Roberta Gately's website: http://robertagately.com/