'Sold' is such a profoundly sad story, and it is intentionally written that way. There just isn't any way to paint a picture of children being sold as sex slaves in a light and cheery way. Of course it is a novel. At least it is advertised that way. However, it would be easier to accept this story as a work of fiction if the reality of the subject wasn't being repeated THOUSANDS of times every single day across planet Earth.
The story is told in a first person perspective. Lakshmi, a naive and trusting Nepalese mountain girl is told that she is going to go to 'The City' to work as a maid. It isn't until an old man is on top of her that she learns the truth. What follows is just a soul crushingly depressing story of murder of a sorts, as Lakshmi's innocence and childhood are killed in no uncertain terms.
It is difficult for a writer to create a fictional character that is human enough to be cared about, worried over, and loved. Yet all great writers are capable of doing it. However, most of those stories are long and epic tales developing a rich history. The length of 'Sold' prevents a detailed backstory, but none is needed. From the opening sentence, Lakshmi becomes the child of any parent and you just want to hold her and protect her. Yet it is her that grabs you and drags you into a world that most of the civilized people of this world are busy pretending doesn't exist.
This book is definitely worth getting.
The story wasn't as bad as my two star rating would seem. The possibility exists for Lisa Gardner to be a great storyteller. Maybe she already is, as I am completely unfamiliar with her career. This story has so much potential to be a great murder mystery, but it is cheated out of that potential by its length.
The first hour of the story comprise the forward and first few chapters of a great novel. The last half hour needs a lot of work, but could be fleshed out into a decent ending and epilogue. What is missing is the story itself. And that's a shame.
Modern mystery writers (novels, movie scripts, TV shows) need to learn a lesson, and this story is no exception. The formula made popular by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in the Sherlock Holmes stories can no longer work in the modern world. A super-sleuth confronting a suspect, whom immediately confesses is no longer believable. A super-sleuth that confronts a suspect, which leads to a previously unmentioned character/suspect, whom immediately confesses is even less believable.
That entire formula collapses under this phrase, "Let me call my lawyer," at which time, the story begins. This story didn't have time to develop a story. It simply set up a scenario, and then solved it, with no actual ability to tease the reader (listener) with a "whodunit".
I would gladly have paid for an 8-10 hour story of this exact same plot by this exact same author and read by this exact same narrator that had an actual confrontation, interrogation, forensic investigation, and surprising twist at the end. At least then I could have met characters and put my own inner detective to the test.
But, hey, it was free, and you get what you pay for.
I have a feeling that many westerners whom come across this title will not even give it a second thought. It will be their loss. While one could forgive the casual shopper for looking at a book with the dome of a Mosque on the cover and promising "A History of the World Through Islamic Eyes" and assuming that it is an anti-western book of Islamist propaganda.
Nothing could be farther from the truth. Maybe there would be less conflict and greater understanding of foreign cultures if all nations wrote their cultural history with such an unbiased assessment of their deeds, crimes, and neglect.
For the record, I was raised in a Catholic house, but converted to Islam four years ago when I met my wife. A woman whom changed my life completely. I have always loved to learn about history, and suddenly having to submit myself to mandates of a culture that I had never understood, and one that is so maligned in popular culture left me with many questions, and no answers at all.
My wife was little help in answering my questions, because she had never had the need to ask them herself. And, for reasons that become clear in this book, many Muslims are largely ignorant of their own cultural significance in world history.
My wife is a Sunni Muslim, and so far I have resisted taking sides in a sectarian divide that I didn't even understand. Thanks to this book, I now know what it is that a Shi'a Muslim believes. However, understanding the differences in a fair and balanced manner, makes it much less likely that I will ever take sides in that conflict.
Tamim Ansary dedicates a large portion of this book to the development of Islamic society through the revelations to the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), and the subsequent rulers of Islam, both religious scholars, and the leaders of the empires. And it is spellbinding. It becomes clear just how the Islamic world authored its own fragmentation throughout history, and how that fragmentation of society made the Middle World easy for invading armies to exploit.
I won't give spoilers, but I was shocked to discover that my own understanding of the Middle World (Middle East) was wrong, wrong, wrong. Nobody told me to think these things, but I placed the blame for many of the problems in the Middle World squarely at the feet of Christianity beginning with the Crusades, continuing through colonialism, progressing through puppet dictators, the outrage of Zionist occupation, and resulting in jihadist hatred.
What I found in this book was that my beliefs were wrong, if not completely, at least partially, on every single one of those beliefs. Tamim Ansary spreads the blame around equally. If the Muslims acted in a way that brought misfortune upon them, he calls them out for it. At the same time, he does not shy away from talking about the horrors committed by invading forces. And to show that he is not simply making things up, he provides specific sources within the book as well.
I recommend this book to ANYBODY that enjoys history. It won't disappoint.
This novel attracted my attention immediately. I am a life-long fan of Stephen King's works, although I admit that I have not enjoyed his post-accident works as much as his earlier stuff. The premise of this book sold me on getting it without hesitation, and overall I am not disappointed. This was my first Audiobook of a Stepen King work, and I enjoyed listening to the story much better than watching any Stephen King movie. If I am honest I have to admit that had I been reading the book rather than listening to it, I most likely would have set it aside and not finished it.
Whom amongst us hasn't asked the question, "What if you could go back in time and...?" This book attempts to tackle that question, and its unforseen consequences in a reasonably sober manner. This is not a ghost story, and you won't find a world filled with monsters and/or boogeymen. However, like with all Stephen King books, you will brush up against the threads of other tales from other books. Surprisingly, it doesn't damage the fable being spun here.
Somewhere around 1/3rd of the way in, the central plot becomes an afterthought and completely irrelevant to the book. For any Stephen King fans, this won't be surprising. His larger works, 'It', 'The Stand', 'Under the Dome', and even 'Pet Semetery' can all be read by tearing out the middle 200 (or more) pages and just moving on. The central plot doesn't become a part of the story again until there is around five hours left in the book. What is odd is that in the case of '11-22-63: A Novel' this fact doesn't harm the story at all.
The Author's obsession with the freedom people had to smoke anywhere and everywhere is the reason that I would have set this book aside. With so many injustices available to choose for discussion, segragation gets maybe 10 minutes of coverage in a 30+ hour book, and police abuses, widespread FBI surveillance, and communist hysteria gripping the nation gets nary a mention. This is sad, because so many parallels could have been drawn to our own current times. And yet, had all the diatribes against people's smoking habits circa 1960 been edited out of this novel, it would probably have cut close to five hours off of the book's overall length.
In the end, I give this book a positive review. It is worth listening to, but I wouldn't suggest paying full price for it if you can avoid it. I used my monthly credit, and I don't feel robbed. Still, I didn't take anything away from this book that I would consider my life being less enriched by had I skipped it. If you are looking for a decent, not great, personal struggle/love story, and not a tense political thriller with supernatural overtones, then this is the book for you.
Overall 6.5 out of 10
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