This reporter did a great job summarizing the novel and also reporting on trafficking at a hyper-local level. Here’s just the introduction to her article:
La Pine junior Zoey James mustered her social energy and drove with her sister Camille through the snow to a party being thrown by a classmate. A stereotypical rural teen scene ensued: Cheap liquor. Hip-hop beats. Dizzying grinds on the dance floor. Only a few sips into a vodka drink, the room started to spin for Zoey, too.
Then, Zoey realized her sister had disappeared. She staggered upstairs in a drug-laced stupor and found Camille passed out and naked on a bed. Unable to stand, Zoey felt herself collapse next to Camille. Hours later, Zoey awoke. Now, both she and her sister lay naked, their bodies covered with Sharpie-drawn obscenities and crude pictures. As quickly as possible, Zoey fled the scene with her sister, ashamed and scared as they drove back to their trailer home and mother. Then, the texts came.
“Ur sister is hot.” A Snapchat picture showed Camille naked on the bed.
“Ur even hotter.” Then, a picture of Zoey.
“If u tell ur mom about the pics, I’ll beat ur sister.”
Text threats were just the beginning. What followed became a living nightmare of sexploitation in rural Central Oregon for the two socially vulnerable teen girls. A web of fear first cloaked in feigned adoration ultimately coerced them into a ring of paid sex acts, pimps and powerlessness.
Zoey and Camille are not real. They’re characters in a just-released novel by author Chris Stollar called “The Black Lens.” Written by the previous Bend resident and Bulletin news reporter with Central Oregon as a backdrop, “The Black Lens”; reminds us that human trafficking, sex slavery and exploitation are real. For many young people in Central Oregon, the world of sex trafficking is non-fiction.
“I first heard about sex trafficking soon after I started working as a news reporter in Bend for The Bulletin,” explained Stollar. “Some of my sources kept encouraging me to investigate a truck stop in La Pine that they claimed was being used as a hub for trafficking. It started a decade-long quest to research and write about this issue.”
Stollar’s recent novel focuses a lens on a burning question: Just how much sex trafficking truly exists in Central Oregon?