Cathy Gohlke was horrified to discover that there are twice as many men, women and children enslaved today than at the height of the trans-Atlantic slave trade.
This realization gave birth to her latest novel, Band of Sisters (Tyndale House). “This book was born of a passion to end modern-day slavery,” she explains, “and most of all, to ask, ‘What can I do to help in a need so desperate?’”
In 1910, Maureen O’Reilly and her younger sister flee a shameful past and perilous future in Ireland. Alone, impoverished, and in danger of deportation, Maureen finds employment in a prominent Manhattan department store, only to discover a secret that threatens every vulnerable woman in the city.
Cathy explains why she wrote a historical novel to highlight a modern-day tragedy: “Historical fiction provides a non-threatening, safe distance for readers to gain perspective on difficult issues. When it’s the story of someone long ago and faraway who dealt with a similar issue, we’re able to consider the situation and the ramifications of their actions less emotionally. That objectivity fosters new viewpoints for current situations. By considering tactics that did or didn’t succeed in the past, we can better view a pathway to the future.”
Cathy’s heartfelt prayer is that her book raises awareness of human trafficking—and that the actions of the characters provide a springboard for readers to consider ways they, too, can fight this injustice.
“None of us can solve the problem, but we can each do something to help,” Cathy says. “By working together, we can raise a symphony demanding abolition and forge paths for a brighter, stronger future.”
There’s a multitude of actions people can take to bring about change—write to a politician, fundraise, mentor an at-risk person, speak up against injustice, shop wisely, and pray continually.
“Most importantly,” says Cathy, “realize that while you can’t do everything, we can each do something.”
This article originally appeared in the January/February 2013 issue of FamilyFiction digital magazine. Subscribe for free today!