Thursday, April 5, 2012

Sold, by Patricia McCormick

Barnes & Noble

Lakshmi is a thirteen-year-old girl who lives with her family in a small hut on a mountain in Nepal. Though she is desperately poor, her life is full of simple pleasures, like playing hopscotch with her best friend from school, 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 family’s crops, Lakshmi’s 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 in the city. Glad to be able to help, Lakshmi journeys 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 family’s debt—then cheats Lakshmi of her meager earnings so that she can never leave.

Lakshmi’s life becomes a nightmare from which she cannot escape. Still, she lives by her mother’s 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? 

It's hard to say that I love a book that was so hard to read. I knew the subject matter going in, so I didn't expect a happy read. I also didn't expect to be crying the majority of the time I was reading. And I mean full sobs, people! My heart hurt for Lakshmi, the thirteen-year-old girl who was sold into prostitution by her step-father (though he may have done so unknowingly, expecting her to find work as a maid).

Rarely has a book affected me like this. I feel sick to my stomach and I want to fly to India right now to help save these girls. I can't help but imagine my own daughter in a similar situation, and that certainly brings on the ugly tears again.

This is a relatively short book that should be read in one sitting. It's incredibly powerful and I have no doubt that it will stay in my thoughts for a very long time.

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