Shyima grew up in Egypt as the middle child of eleven children, enjoying her meager life with her siblings before one day, when she was 8 years old, her parents sold her to a wealthy family. From that point on, Shyima’s childhood became one of slavery that would last for many years, taking her from Egypt over to the United States.
Hidden Girl is a shocking and startling look into the world of modern-day human trafficking and slavery. It is an eye opener with this glimpse of one girl’s story who is, unfortunately, most likely one of many many more. Shyima’s strength is astonishing throughout her ordeal, through all that she endured over the years of captivity – especially in a country where she didn’t understand the language.
I found there were moments that seemed a bit jilted and jumped around in the storytelling flow, and at times some passages felt very repetitive. That being said, I couldn’t help but continue to admire this now-young woman living in California. Her life has been full of hardships between her captors and her biological family even, and so many points I just kept thinking that this girl couldn’t catch a break! She speaks of her ordeals often in a very factual manner, almost with the feeling that she wants to keep that distance from it and not bring back up all the anger and flood of emotions that it would come with.
And yet, not all of this story is of despair though, where surprisingly her tale of slavery is actually over fairly early on in the memoir. Hidden Girl sheds light on the rescue and subsequent foster care that Shyima went through as well. It speaks of hope and determination, her resolve to learn English even though she is many years behind in school with her learning ability. While her childhood was defined by such horrific conditions, she is determined to become independent and make a life for herself and that, above all, is one of the biggest things I took from this memoir. She is a strong woman who has resolved not to let her past define her and to use her experience to hopefully help others. Remarkable & astounding.