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.
McCormick says that she wrote it as a series of
vignettes because, initially, it was too daunting
for her to imagine being able to tell Lakshmi's
entire story. She also felt that the vignettes were
the right way to tell a story that is inherently so
fractured - if not shattering.
I cannot recommend it highly enough, here is a brief excerpt, with more online:
I no longer notice the smell
of the indoor privy.
And I long ago stopped feeling the blows of Mumtaz's strap.
But today when I buried my face in my bundle of clothes, from home, there was no hearth smoke in the folds of my skirt, no crisp Himalayan night air in my shawl.
I have been frugal with myself, not daring to unwrap the bundle more than once a day, for fear that it would lose its magic.
But today, it became just a rag skirt and a tattered shawl.
About the author: Patricia McCormick is a journalist and writer. Her first novel for teens was Cut, about a young woman who self-injures herself. This was followed by My Brother's Keeper in 2005, about a boy struggling with his brother's addiction; and Sold in 2006. She lives in New York with two children, a husband and two cats.
She says that she was inspired to write Sold about five years ago following a chance meeting with a photographer who was working undercover to document the presence of young girls in brothels overseas. She knew immediately that she wanted to tell this heartbreaking story from the point of view of one individual girl.
She feels that young adults want to know what's happening to their peers on the other side of the world, but that media accounts, by their very nature, cannot usually go beyond the surface. In order to research Sold she spent a month in India and Nepal tracing Lakshmi's steps - going from a poor, isolated village in the foothills of the Himalayas all the way to the teeming red-light district of Calcutta. She interviewed women in the red-light district, girls who had been rescued, and a man who had sold his girlfriend in exchange for a motorcycle. She says that it helped that she was a foreigner in the busy streets of Kathmandu and Calcutta, because she was "as bewildered and awestruck by these places as Lakshmi is in the novel."
At first she felt inadequate to the task of doing justice to the stories the women had entrusted to her. But when she thought about the young girls who might be recruited to take their places as the women became ill or died, she felt an urgency to begin to write.
This review was originally published in October 2006, and has been updated for the April 2008 paperback release. Click here to go to this issue.
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