Faraway: A Suburban Boy’s Story as a Victim of Sex Trafficking by R.K. Kline and Daniel D. Maurer
We grimace at the sight of Louis CK’s recent comedic interaction with child molestation on SNL because know deep down inside that this is nothing to laugh about. In a new book by R.K. Kline and Daniel D. Maurer tell the story of Kevin’s journey through adolescence, trying to find out his orientation as a gay teen living in St. Louis. He met a man who he thought he could trust, but things turned out to be a nightmare. Instead of guiding him in the right path, Ray pushed him into a life of sex trafficking, whereby he sent young Kevin to homes in St. Louis to meet with older men. The story is a sad tale of the kind of thing that can happen right under our noses if we aren’t careful to become aware of such things.
The thing that is striking in the book is how Kevin befriends Stevie and Squirrel and he sees how a friendship should work, even in the hellish circumstances they were in. The authors write, “I realize now, of course, that the day I had just experienced should not be a day experienced by any kid. There was nothing normal about it. But, for some reason, I felt at home with Stevie and Squirrel (43).” Stevie didn’t have a home but stayed at Sam on many days, and Squirrel was also all around the town. These three shared times at Forest Park, at the zoo, even at the Muny as a way to stick together. And yet, they also shared each other. The thing that struck was that Kevin felt a tinge a guilt about his actions, even remembering in church the lector quoting Romans 1 about unnatural and natural relations, but not enough guilt to make him stop.
The disgusting nature of the events in Kevin’s life come to the forefront as he is forced within an inch of his life to have sex with a boy while being filmed. The abuser told Ray that he could use the boy again next time, a word that is appropriate for such repulsive activities. Yet, this is not the end of Kevin’s story, for as he tells in the chapter on hope, he became an ELCA minister, eventually dealing with his own past through psychiatry in Hawaii. Kevin puts the blame for his past on every institution that sought to denounce and ridicule gay teens, from the church to the schools and families.
Thanks to Two Harbors and Speak Easy for the copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.