The Bracelet by Roberta Gately follows Abby Monroe, a young woman searching for herself following a difficult breakup. She thought she had found “the one” in long time boyfriend, Eric, but when Eric is offered a job across the country he decides to go on without her.
So, heartbroken and lost, Abby does what any girl would in that situation: join the United Nations and take off half way around the world to Peshawar, Pakistan. Here Abby, a trained nurse, looks at statistical data from a refugee camp and reports her findings to the UN. The goal of their mission is to aid in any way possible the vaccinations of the refugees (mostly women and children) who come there.
One of Abby’s colleagues in Peshawar is Najeela, a bubbly, beautiful young woman originally from Afghanistan. Her family left Afghanistan as her father wanted different opportunities for his wife, a college professor, and his daughter than what would have been allowed had they stayed. Despite the appearance of progressive thinking, Najeela mentions several times that her father can be quite violent and closed-minded at home, but wants to be seen as forward thinking to the public. Thus Abby begins to learn what is going on behind closed doors in her new city.
Of course, because this is a story of a heartbroken young woman there must be a love interest. Enter Nick, a handsome, rugged reporter sent to Peshawar to write a story about the UN’s involvement there. Part of Nick’s assignment is to interview Abby. At first they are at odds. Abby doesn’t want to be interviewed and resents Nick’s arrogant attitude. Nick reveals to her that he considers his interview with her “fluff” and his real angle is to write about human trafficking, which is a major problem in the refugee camp, as well as the city itself. It’s a problem that Nick is passionate about exposing, and one that he feels is being ignored. Abby is shocked to hear about this from Nick and is also hurt at being thought of as “fluff.” Predictably, as they begin to work together their feelings change.
Perhaps the most interesting plot point comes in the very first chapter of the novel where Abby bears witness to a heinous crime. While training in Geneva for her mission in Pakistan, Abby sees a woman being pushed out of a building and falling to her death. What Abby remembers most about the nightmarish scene is a beautifully crafted bracelet on the woman’s arm. With no one around, Abby goes back to her hotel to get help. By the time she brings aid to the crime scene, it has been cleared and no one believes what Abby saw. This experience changes Abby and continues to haunt her throughout her journey.
Gately’s story reads sort of like a Lifetime movie (please know I LOVE Lifetime movies.) It’s easy to follow and surprisingly light given the intense content of human trafficking. I really enjoyed the balance between the love story, friendship, and the healthy dose of reality. Human trafficking is a huge problem in our world, one that deserves attention.
I think that Gately handled her content well, exposing just enough to make her point, but not so much that it was difficult for me to read. I think it is worth bearing in mind the seriousness of the content before you pick up this book as your reaction to those themes/ scenes might be totally different from mine. All in all a nice, quick read.
3 out of 5 Stars
The Bracelet by Roberta Gately
Gallery Books (2012)
Paperback 336 pages
Special thanks to Gallery Books for my review copy!