Lakshmi is a thirteen-year-old girl who lives with her family in a small hut in the mountains of Nepal. Her family is desperately poor, but her life is full of simple pleasures, like raising her black-and-white speckled goat, and having her mother brush her hair by the light of an oil lamp. But when the harsh Himalayan monsoons wash away all that remains of the familys crops, Lakshmis stepfather says she must leave home and take a job to support her family.
He introduces her to a glamorous stranger who tells her she will find her a job as a maid working for a wealthy woman in the city. Glad to be able to help, Lakshmi undertakes the long journey to India and arrives at Happiness House full of hope. But she soon learns the unthinkable truth: she has been sold into prostitution.
An old woman named Mumtaz rules the brothel with cruelty and cunning. She tells Lakshmi that she is trapped there until she can pay off her familys debt then cheats Lakshmi of her meager earnings so that she can never leave.
Lakshmis life becomes a nightmare from which she cannot escape. Still, she lives by her mothers words Simply to endure is to triumph and gradually, she forms friendships with the other girls that enable her to survive in this terrifying new world. Then the day comes when she must make a decision will she risk everything for a chance to reclaim her life?
Written in spare and evocative vignettes, this powerful novel renders a world that is as unimaginable as it is real, and a girl who not only survives but triumphs.
To research Sold, Patricia McCormick traveled to India and Nepal where she interviewed the women of Calcuttas red-light district and girls who have been rescued from the sex trade. She is the author of the acclaimed novels Cut and My Brothers Keeper.
I'm wiping the makeup off my face when the dark-skinned
girl comes in.
"What do you think you're doing?" she says.
"I'm going home."
Her tear-shaped eyes grow dark.
"There is a mistake," I tell her. "I'm here to work as a maid for
a rich lady."
"Is that what you were told?"
Then Mumtaz arrives at the door, huffing, her mango face
pink with anger.
"What do you think you're doing?" she says.
"Leaving," I say. "I'm going home."
Mumtaz laughs. "Home?" she says. "And how would you get
I don't know.
"Do you know the way home?" she says.
"Do you have money for the train?
Do you speak the language here?
Do you even have any idea where you are?"
My heart is pounding like the drumming of a monsoon rain,
and my shoulders are shaking as if I had a great chill.
"You ignorant hill girl," she says.
"You don't know anything. Do you?"
I wrap my arms around myself and grip with all my might.
But the trembling will not stop.
It was an incredible journey in India and a memorable moving visit to Apne-Aap in Kolkata (Calcutta). While in Kolkata I also visited the slum areas and the red light district, where Apne-Aap has community centers. I had hoped to be able to share some pictures ...
Sold is a devastating little book written in free verse. Although written for teenage readers, it is one of those books that can and should cross-over into the adult market. I cannot recommend it highly enough.
(Reviewed by BookBrowse Review Team).
Full Review (844 words).
Each year about 12,000 Nepali
girls are sold by their
families, intentionally or
unwittingly, into a life of
sexual slavery in the brothels
Worldwide, the US State Department estimates that nearly half a million children are trafficked into the sex trade annually.
Lakshmi was sold by her stepfather to the intermediary for 800 Nepalese Rupees - less than $11.
McCormick suggests ways teenagers (and adults) can help:
Educate yourself by visiting ...
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