Book Review: Dime

By: E.R. Frank
Published By:
Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: May 26, 2015
Page Count: 336
Source: ARC Kindly Provided By Publisher
Audience/Genre: YA Fiction
 Buy it at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Indiebound.

With heavy subject matter and a narrator whom your heart will break to pieces for over and over again, Dime isn't a happy-go-lucky story for the faint of heart, but is one of the most well-written YA novels I've read in a long while. E.R. Frank provides an authentic excursion into the world of teenage prostitution that will stick with her readers long after they put down this book. 

14 year old Dime's needs are the needs of every human being, to love and be loved. With her most basic needs unfilled by her alcoholic foster mother, a foster brother who touches her, a revolving door of foster sisters, and two kids she only sees at school who could maybe, loosely, be called friends -- Dime is ripe for recruitment into Daddy's family of wifeys. She doesn't realize what's happened before it's far too late to course correct, and even when she returns home and reaches out, she's turned away again and again.

Dime's is truly is one of the most well-developed and authentic voices I've read in YA literature, though Frank's superb writing shines in all of the characters. Her knack for weaving in other well-known pieces of literature (To Kill a Mockingbird, The Color Purple) to assist in the storytelling never, ever seems forced or fake, namely because young people time and time again connect with these stories, so it's not gimmicky. (My Magic Lamp Sunday wish for this week was to re-experience reading To Kill a Mockingbird for the first time.) And Dime's idea to write her escape letter as Truth, or Love, or Sex, or Money gives a new level of depth to the story, as well as some unique perspectives to show the reader what Dime is thinking when she may not be able to articulate her thoughts to tell them.

A word on the ending -- I sat on my couch for nearly 15 minutes, completely stunned, after reading the ending and found it difficult to pick up another book for a few days, the impact was that jarring. And although the subject matter is incredibly uncomfortable at times, and I can't think of a single person (adult or teenager) I'd tell to read this book, it is one I hope many people discover on their own. It's not because the book is bad, by any stretch of the imagination, but more that I don't want to be responsible for plunging someone into this world. As Dime wrote:

Then Truth would apologize. I'm sorry to upset you with all of this, Truth would say, But please. Please keep reading. (Kindle Loc.1828-29)

Summary via Goodreads

The realities of teen prostitution are revealed in this eye-opening, heartbreaking story from the author of America, which Booklist called "a piercing, unforgettable novel" and Kirkus Reviews deemed "a work of sublime humanity."

As a teen girl in Newark, New Jersey, lost in the foster care system, Dime just wants someone to care about her, to love her. A family. And that is exactly what she gets-a daddy and two "wifeys." So what if she has to go out and earn some coins to keep her place? It seems a fair enough exchange for love.

Dime never meant to become a prostitute. It happened so gradually, she pretty much didn't realize it was happening until it was too late.

But when a new "wifey" joins the family and Dime finds out that Daddy doesn't love her the way she thought he did, will Dime have the strength to leave? And will Daddy let her?