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The Life I'm In

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The powerful and long-anticipated companion to The Skin I'm In, Sharon Flake's bestselling modern classic, presents the unflinching story of Char, a young woman trapped in the underworld of human trafficking. My feet are heavy as stones when I walk up the block wondering why I can't find my old self. In The Skin I'm In, readers saw into the life of Maleeka Madison, a teen The powerful and long-anticipated companion to The Skin I'm In, Sharon Flake's bestselling modern classic, presents the unflinching story of Char, a young woman trapped in the underworld of human trafficking. My feet are heavy as stones when I walk up the block wondering why I can't find my old self. In The Skin I'm In, readers saw into the life of Maleeka Madison, a teen who suffered from the ridicule she received because of her dark skin color. For decades fans have wanted to know the fate of the bully who made Maleeka's life miserable, Char. Now in Sharon Flake's latest and unflinching novel, The Life I'm In, we follow Charlese Jones, who, with her raw, blistering voice speaks the truths many girls face, offering insight to some of the causes and conditions that make a bully. Turned out of the only home she has known, Char boards a bus to nowhere where she is lured into the dangerous web of human trafficking. Much is revealed behind the complex system of men who take advantage of vulnerable teens in the underbelly of society. While Char might be frightened, she remains strong and determined to bring herself and her fellow victims out of the dark and back into the light, reminding us why compassion is a powerful cure to the ills of the world. Sharon Flake's bestselling, Coretta Scott King Award-winning novel The Skin I'mIn was a game changer when it was first published more than twenty years ago. It redefined young adult literature by presenting characters, voices, and real-world experiences that had not been fully seen. Now Flake offers readers another timely and radical story of a girl on the brink and how her choices will lead her to either fall, or fly.


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The powerful and long-anticipated companion to The Skin I'm In, Sharon Flake's bestselling modern classic, presents the unflinching story of Char, a young woman trapped in the underworld of human trafficking. My feet are heavy as stones when I walk up the block wondering why I can't find my old self. In The Skin I'm In, readers saw into the life of Maleeka Madison, a teen The powerful and long-anticipated companion to The Skin I'm In, Sharon Flake's bestselling modern classic, presents the unflinching story of Char, a young woman trapped in the underworld of human trafficking. My feet are heavy as stones when I walk up the block wondering why I can't find my old self. In The Skin I'm In, readers saw into the life of Maleeka Madison, a teen who suffered from the ridicule she received because of her dark skin color. For decades fans have wanted to know the fate of the bully who made Maleeka's life miserable, Char. Now in Sharon Flake's latest and unflinching novel, The Life I'm In, we follow Charlese Jones, who, with her raw, blistering voice speaks the truths many girls face, offering insight to some of the causes and conditions that make a bully. Turned out of the only home she has known, Char boards a bus to nowhere where she is lured into the dangerous web of human trafficking. Much is revealed behind the complex system of men who take advantage of vulnerable teens in the underbelly of society. While Char might be frightened, she remains strong and determined to bring herself and her fellow victims out of the dark and back into the light, reminding us why compassion is a powerful cure to the ills of the world. Sharon Flake's bestselling, Coretta Scott King Award-winning novel The Skin I'mIn was a game changer when it was first published more than twenty years ago. It redefined young adult literature by presenting characters, voices, and real-world experiences that had not been fully seen. Now Flake offers readers another timely and radical story of a girl on the brink and how her choices will lead her to either fall, or fly.

30 review for The Life I'm In

  1. 4 out of 5

    Brittany J. (BNJreads)

    What an emotionally taxing read. I can’t speak highly enough about this book and the gems it drops for our young readers. Powerful powerful powerful. What a fantastic protagonist Char was. Also: audiobook *chefs kiss* I will forever be a Bahni Turpin fan. More thoughts to come.

  2. 5 out of 5

    TheNextGenLibrarian

    A few weeks ago I read The Skin I’m In by Sharon Flake and loved it so when I saw the sequel on Edelweiss I requested it immediately. The Life I’m In was an incredibly difficult book to read, but so very necessary. It addresses human trafficking, an issue we are hearing more and more about everyday on the news, as well as through training in the school system. 🚎 This YA novel focuses on Char, the bully from book 1 who tormented Maleeka. She was an unforgivable character, one I had no plans on fe A few weeks ago I read The Skin I’m In by Sharon Flake and loved it so when I saw the sequel on Edelweiss I requested it immediately. The Life I’m In was an incredibly difficult book to read, but so very necessary. It addresses human trafficking, an issue we are hearing more and more about everyday on the news, as well as through training in the school system. 🚎 This YA novel focuses on Char, the bully from book 1 who tormented Maleeka. She was an unforgivable character, one I had no plans on feeling empathy for. However Flake soon had me changing my mind. Everything that Char goes through—no one should ever have to...and yet this is a problem on the rise that books haven’t really addressed yet. I’m very thankful that Flake chose to tell Char’s journey in this way. I always believe that books can change lives. This one could save them. Be sure to purchase this story January 5, 2021.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Liza Wiemer

    Vivid, heart-wrenching, and hopeful, Sharon Flake is a superstar author who shares Char's story with such painful honesty, we must not look away or be silent. Human trafficking is not something that most of us think about everyday or hear about in the news everyday, yet it's destroying lives. Every. Single. Day. These kids must be protected. One way to do that is to share this book with as many young adults as possible so that they'll share it with others. They need to know how to protect themse Vivid, heart-wrenching, and hopeful, Sharon Flake is a superstar author who shares Char's story with such painful honesty, we must not look away or be silent. Human trafficking is not something that most of us think about everyday or hear about in the news everyday, yet it's destroying lives. Every. Single. Day. These kids must be protected. One way to do that is to share this book with as many young adults as possible so that they'll share it with others. They need to know how to protect themselves. Buy this book and donate it to schools, women's or family shelters. Anywhere vulnerable teens might be found. Flake is a brilliant writer and a three-time Coretta Scott King Award winner. This could very easily be #4! Pick it up. Read it. Share it. Highly recommend.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

    Thank you to Scholastic for the ARC of The Life I'm In by Sharon Flake. It is not very often I have to set a book down because I can't emotionally handle the content of the story, but I found myself doing that multiple times with this novel. Flake took the time with this story to develop realistic characters and situations, that however unfortunate, shine a light on a very scary and dangerous part of our society. Char is not a likable character after reading The Skin I'm In (not that you have re Thank you to Scholastic for the ARC of The Life I'm In by Sharon Flake. It is not very often I have to set a book down because I can't emotionally handle the content of the story, but I found myself doing that multiple times with this novel. Flake took the time with this story to develop realistic characters and situations, that however unfortunate, shine a light on a very scary and dangerous part of our society. Char is not a likable character after reading The Skin I'm In (not that you have read that novel for this one to make sense), and it doesn't get much better in the first few chapters of The Life I'm In, but the farther into the story you go, the more I found myself rooting for her and wanting her to find a way out and succeed. Flake has created another novel that will resonate with readers and again teach them lessons they never thought they needed to learn.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Ms. Yingling

    E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus This was much more YA than I remember The Skin I'm In being. E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus This was much more YA than I remember The Skin I'm In being.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Charity Alyse

    “I know I ain’t done healing...but I color myself happy anyway. ‘Cause I am.” . The Life I’m in by Sharon G. Flake tells the story of a sixteen year old girl named Char who gets kicked out of her home and put on bus to live with her grandparents because of bad behavior; except she doesn’t go where she’s supposed to. Instead she chooses to live her own life, her on way. She becomes a teen runaway and soon lacks the economic resources to sustain even a low income lifestyle. Down on her luck, she mee “I know I ain’t done healing...but I color myself happy anyway. ‘Cause I am.” . The Life I’m in by Sharon G. Flake tells the story of a sixteen year old girl named Char who gets kicked out of her home and put on bus to live with her grandparents because of bad behavior; except she doesn’t go where she’s supposed to. Instead she chooses to live her own life, her on way. She becomes a teen runaway and soon lacks the economic resources to sustain even a low income lifestyle. Down on her luck, she meets a man who is willing to take care of her. A man who is willing to give her food, clothing, and money for rent. Her growling stomach jumps at the chance and soon she’s on a whirlwind; thrown smack dab into the realm of human trafficking. . Flake writes Char’s story unapologetically and truthfully. My heart broke for her so many times. The abuse Char encountered is not fictional, it goes on everyday in our neighborhoods, our cities, right under our noses. I can remember a time last year where a woman boldly came into my job, dressed in a fur with bright red lipstick, and asked if I could take her home. I said no, but she refused to leave. She begged for a ride from myself and another young female coworker. She stayed around the store until closing (11pm) waiting for me to leave. . I was terrified. Luckily, my manager kicked her out and y’all, this women left in a limousine. (So much for needing a ride) This sort of thing can happen to anyone. In this book, Flake makes it plain. There are men (and women) everywhere, seeking to exploit vulnerable young people for money. . This was a read that was hard to get through at times, but hard to put down. It was both thought provoking and honest. It showed that even in the darkest of places, choosing to wake up everyday and take one step forward, is one step closer toward healing. It’s informative and really helpful for someone who is looking to help in the fight against human trafficking. If you or you know anyone who is or was a victim of human trafficking, please call this number 1-888-373-7888. .

  7. 4 out of 5

    Ms. Humphrey

    A hard read, but beautifully written. I was riveted by Charlese's story almost from the start. (I do worry that the slower start might deter some readers; there's not much "hook" at the start, but it's hard to look away from Char once she starts her journey!) The novel had three distinct sections for me: I fell in love with Char on her bus ride, so once she arrives in the city, my stomach was constantly in knots as I followed her choices and the reasoning behind those choices, knowing where they A hard read, but beautifully written. I was riveted by Charlese's story almost from the start. (I do worry that the slower start might deter some readers; there's not much "hook" at the start, but it's hard to look away from Char once she starts her journey!) The novel had three distinct sections for me: I fell in love with Char on her bus ride, so once she arrives in the city, my stomach was constantly in knots as I followed her choices and the reasoning behind those choices, knowing where they were likely to lead. It was heartbreaking watching her struggle with her own capacity to help herself (for example, (view spoiler)[trying to throw a party to earn money, just like she'd seen her older sister do (hide spoiler)] ). Flake does a beautiful job of holding Char's humanity and her struggles without infantilizing her or making her a caricature. Now to the tough stuff: This is not the book for anyone who has a major trigger around rape or human trafficking. (view spoiler)[Flake's approach to Char's initiation into prostitution is unflinching and brutal. The way she's manipulated into acquiescing, and the sisterhood she finds among her fellow trafficking victims, is powerfully rendered. Flake's skill as a writer is part of what makes her novel such a challenging read. We are right there with Char as she's victimized over and over, in a variety of horrible ways, sexually, physically, and emotionally. That said, the intensity of the story is part of what makes it so impossible to look away from! I took comfort in the third section of the plot, where she's returned to her family and has to try to heal. I don't think I'd feel ok about sharing this book with students if it didn't have a happy ending where Charlese reclaims her power (hide spoiler)] . I will for sure be purchasing this for my classroom library!

  8. 4 out of 5

    Krystal Barnes

    They run. They are young. They all feel like they don’t have anyone that cares and loves them. “You can write me down in history With your bitter, twisted lies, You may trod me in the very dirt But still, like dust, I’ll rise.” Maya Angelou “Writing can be cathartic.” Adults job is to protect. It is never the abused person’s fault. It is the abusers way of making you think and believe that it’s your fault. “It’s how they keep their hand on your shoulder, over your mouth. But if you stay silent, they w They run. They are young. They all feel like they don’t have anyone that cares and loves them. “You can write me down in history With your bitter, twisted lies, You may trod me in the very dirt But still, like dust, I’ll rise.” Maya Angelou “Writing can be cathartic.” Adults job is to protect. It is never the abused person’s fault. It is the abusers way of making you think and believe that it’s your fault. “It’s how they keep their hand on your shoulder, over your mouth. But if you stay silent, they win.” No one abused persons situation is the same and it doesn’t make one’s situation less tragic. Abuse is abuse. In many ways the stories are similar when discussed. You have to speak up and make your story heard. It will make you feel better. Char learned what it felt to be disrespected, beat down, and broken as she did to Maleeka. Never give up!!!

  9. 4 out of 5

    Paula Soper

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Man, this was a tough book. I loved The Skin I'm In, so I was excited to read this. Why? Because it's by Sharon G. Flake. Why did I finish the novel? Because it's by Sharon G. Flake. Unfortunately, it hit about every trigger that I have. Girl without a family, man gaslighting the girl until she didn't know who she was or what she was, sex trafficking. The big difference is that the man was caught and convicted. Char ended up with a circle of friends (AND her sister) around her. Warnings (for the Man, this was a tough book. I loved The Skin I'm In, so I was excited to read this. Why? Because it's by Sharon G. Flake. Why did I finish the novel? Because it's by Sharon G. Flake. Unfortunately, it hit about every trigger that I have. Girl without a family, man gaslighting the girl until she didn't know who she was or what she was, sex trafficking. The big difference is that the man was caught and convicted. Char ended up with a circle of friends (AND her sister) around her. Warnings (for the faint of heart): Drugs - Yes Sex - Yes R&R - Gaslighting Language - Some Violence - Yes

  10. 4 out of 5

    Amanda Cresse

    Wow... Sharon G. Flake always gives us what we need. Human trafficking is one of those subjects we don't like thinking about, but it is a real epidemic that destroys countless lives. Flake breaks the silence with Char's story. She eases into the plot, reminding her reader just who Char is and then without being vulgar or detailed gives us a glimpse into Char's worst nightmare. A tough girl in an unimaginable situation. The best part: she tells the full story. What happens after? What does surviv Wow... Sharon G. Flake always gives us what we need. Human trafficking is one of those subjects we don't like thinking about, but it is a real epidemic that destroys countless lives. Flake breaks the silence with Char's story. She eases into the plot, reminding her reader just who Char is and then without being vulgar or detailed gives us a glimpse into Char's worst nightmare. A tough girl in an unimaginable situation. The best part: she tells the full story. What happens after? What does survival look like? She paints the complete picture without rushing into what we want reality to be. Authentic. Unforgettable.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Janet Damon

    Such an important story that shines a light on human trafficking, healing, and transformation. I appreciate that Sharon worked with survivors to research her book and that it has affirming representations of Black sisterhood and friendship in the midst of the struggle! It was a difficult read because as an educator I worry constantly about our teenage girls. This book reminded me that educators must also be mentors & advocates for youth. We can be there for kids at such important moments in thei Such an important story that shines a light on human trafficking, healing, and transformation. I appreciate that Sharon worked with survivors to research her book and that it has affirming representations of Black sisterhood and friendship in the midst of the struggle! It was a difficult read because as an educator I worry constantly about our teenage girls. This book reminded me that educators must also be mentors & advocates for youth. We can be there for kids at such important moments in their lives to disrupt violence and exploitation.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Lashanda

    This was a great reading! I often wondered what happened with Maleeka and Char. Char was a character I despised. I had a “Char” in my childhood. When my “Char” went to high school, she was on the receiving end of being bullied. When this book came out, I knew I had to have it to see how things would be for Char. I commend Sharon Flake for a well executed writing.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Hamilton

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I read The Skin I’m In so long ago, but this book while hard to stomach at times was more than eye-opening about the human trafficking industry. The way that Anthony preys upon Charlese shows just how intense the grooming goes and how far he will take it to get what he wants.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    Heavy, but hopeful. High school teachers and librarians- add this to your libraries for its important message about self-worth and strength.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Book Maven Sam

    Amazing! I wasn't expecting it to go so deep into such a deep and real problem in America. Wow! Great realistic fiction. Awesome book reference for teenagers of all genders, races etc. Amazing! I wasn't expecting it to go so deep into such a deep and real problem in America. Wow! Great realistic fiction. Awesome book reference for teenagers of all genders, races etc.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Sara

  17. 5 out of 5

    Jada

  18. 4 out of 5

    Briayna Cuffie

  19. 5 out of 5

    Katye Russell

  20. 4 out of 5

    Lira

  21. 4 out of 5

    Lanette

  22. 4 out of 5

    Elena

  23. 4 out of 5

    Loren :)))

  24. 4 out of 5

    Christine

  25. 5 out of 5

    Chelsea Heyboer

  26. 5 out of 5

    Bianca

  27. 5 out of 5

    Joi

  28. 4 out of 5

    Julie Manley

  29. 4 out of 5

    Tim

  30. 5 out of 5

    Nichole Batluck

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