On three different continents, the lives of three teenaged girls are irrevocably changed by cell phones. Sylvie’s village in the Democratic Republic of Congo is burned by a militia group bent on controlling the country’s supply of “blue gold” – a mineral used in the production of cell phones. Sylvie escapes to a refugee camp where she lives in abject poverty, under the constant threat of violence. Laiping works for a multinational cell phone manufacturer, earning money to help support her family. Despite grueling hours of tedious work, cramped living quarters, and no employee benefits or rights, Laiping is thankful for her job until she realizes that her dreams of wealth are an illusion. Fiona is a grade nine student in Canada. In a desperate bid to save a failing relationship, she snaps an explicit photo of herself using her smartphone and sends it to her boyfriend. The phone falls into the wrong hands, and the consequences of this mistake will be felt around the world.
Award-winning author Elizabeth Stewart’s Blue Gold is a flawless exposé of exploitation and the human cost of rampant consumerism. Artfully blending psychological insights with global politics and business ethics, Stewart demonstrates the interconnectedness of the global economy with elegant prose and page-turning cliffhangers. Thought-provoking but not didactic, Blue Gold exposes the vulnerability of girls worldwide, and the complications that new technologies have created. Ironically, Stewart also demonstrates the redemptive potential of technology, and its empowering possibilities when put to good use. Readers will think twice when purchasing their next cell phone, and will come away from this novel with insight into the importance of ethically sourced products.