We sat down with Wendi Adelson, author of This is Our Story, a newly released book about Rosa and Mila, two young women from different countries who become victims of human trafficking when unwittingly duped into domestic servitude and commercial sexual exploitation in the American Southeast.
Why did you write this book?
I sat down one day to write a law review article about a nuanced aspect of immigration law, and I paused, exhaled deeply, and stopped typing. I thought, “I don’t want to write this.” What I wanted to write, instead, were my clients’ stories. I wanted people to know that human trafficking isn’t something that only happens in other countries, that victims of trafficking are nothing like the scenes portrayed in the movie Taken, and that the realities of trafficking extend far beyond the kicking down of a brothel door. I wanted to describe the universal vulnerabilities that lead to trafficking (like poverty and abuse), and to have my clients tell their own stories, from their own perspectives. I also wanted to tell the story of the public interest lawyer, because I feel like that voice is mostly absent from contemporary fiction. I wanted people to know what it meant to search for justice for your clients, and to assist them with life after trafficking.
What inspired you to write?
My clients. As a humanitarian immigration lawyer, I wanted to make sure that I wasn’t the only person who had the chance to meet them, to know their strength, their pain, their joy, and their resilience. I wanted their stories to mean something, to reach more people.
Where is your favorite place to write?
Black Dog. It’s an independent coffee shop located next to Lake Ella close to my home in Northern Florida. They have local homemade ice cream, super nice staff, and most unfortunate-looking ducks. It’s perfect.
How long did it take you to finish the book?
About three years. I finished the last round of edits right before my first child Benjamin was born.
What is the last book you read that you loved?
Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese. I mean, wow.
Which authors do you admire ?
Tell us a little about you?
I spend my days directing a law school-based legal clinic, trying to make people laugh, and doing my best to be a good friend/daughter/sister/mother/wife to the people in my life. I like to salsa dance, to make hearty soups, and to do silly things that make good stories later on.
What product can you not live without?
Toothpaste. I love brushing my teeth. So minty!
Where is your favorite place to shop?
Target. I have two young kids, so Target is pretty much where it’s at these days.
Who on your music playlist these days?
Most of the time I delude myself into thinking I am still the same age as my law students. And then, we take an 8 hour car trip to immigration court and I discover that they find 80’s music “like, so fun” and want to talk about dancing to Counting Crows in kindergarten. My almost three year old son asked me to put Karma Chameleon on the radio yesterday. I told him that I don’t have that kind of power. He suggested Aimee Mann’s Eye to Eye instead. Oh, my sweet son: Your mother needs an update.