Audie Award Finalist, Package Design, 2013
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?
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.
©2006 Patricia McCormick (P)2012 Tantor
"Hard-hitting...poignant. The author beautifully balances the harshness of brothel life with the poignant relationships among its residents." (Publishers Weekly Starred Review)
"A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads lives only one." - Jojen Reed. #ADanceWithDragons
This book is just plain haunting... I got through this book in one sitting... This is undoubtedly going to be one of my favorite books. The book is sad, honest, raw and beautiful at the same time. It becomes one of those books that you do not want to finish because it is so good but find yourself incapable of actually stopping.
While going through the book you have the decision of either steeling yourself or to completely immerse yourself. The book surrounds Lakshmi, a 13 year old girl who goes through just goes through heartbreaking situations. The entire scope of the book lasts just one year but the tragic circumstances that she endured is more than one needs to endure for a lifetime. The writing was haunting in nature and taken from the vantage point as Lakshmi herself makes it even more heart-wrenching. You see as she moves from a hopeful, naive girl to a seemingly broken shell of her former self and then to a downright fighter. The book is gripping throughout and plays heavily on your morality and sense of humanity.
The narration, for me, was superb. The way that the narrator was able to bring across the entire story in such a haunting manner is impressive. She only adds to the mood of the book and leaves you utterly gripped to the novel. 5 Star Narration through and through here.
Listen mostly to urban fantasy and suspense/thrillers but also enjoy mysteries, sci-fi, fantasy, romance, adventure, classic, modern, spiritual or general literature. And I always like a bit of romance in any of my stories.
The story was obviously well researched. Although it was written as fiction it could easily be some girl's story in real life. Justine Eyre did a great job of giving the young girl voice bringing to life her story and that of the other girls with her. After listening I went and made a donation to help girls like her. (I went online but I'm sure there are other places).
Armchair - and sometimes actual - traveler and Audible Editor with a penchant for literary, lyrical, and at times lighthearted listens. And alliteration.
This is a heartbreaking novel of a thirteen-year-old Nepalese girl, tricked and sold into a brothel in the slums of Calcutta by her gambling-addicted step-father. The free-verse writing style is brought to life in audio; Justine Eyre’s narration is lyrical and pitch-perfect, an intimate glance inside young Lakshmi’s sad world. At times I wanted to stop listening, but found that I just couldn't. This is an emotional, all-encompassing story, and although it's fiction, it really left me thinking about what so many young girls suffer through. A definite tear-jerker.
Married mother of three teenagers, back to work after 15 years at home - when I read a lot. Now I am the assistant to the Mayor of Omaha and work at least 60 hours a week, and on top of what I have to do at home - no more books. This lets me listen to the classics, the latest, whatever I want. I can learn or escape. I have always love audio books, but now I NEED them.
I do not want to destroy the effect of this story on you by giving too much information, but want you to know that it is not a lighthearted tale. The description tells you it will not be fun, but realize that it is real, and the effects are strong. As a mother, it was hard sometimes to listen, but I am glad I did. I am not any kind of activist, nor do I give much thought to human rights around the world, but this gives me pause to consider it more - without telling me I was a bad person for not considering it before now.
Highly suggest this for those strong enough to face harsh truths about this world.
The things humans do to one another!!! This book just made me feel sad, this little girl went through something I cant imagine having to go through!!! This book is another eye operner to the horrible things thats goes on in this world that we dont think about enough. It makes you want to hold on to your a babies a little tighter!!!
Her realization that she had been sold into a brothel and her sense of hopelessness.
This story is a scary reality and the injustice of it all left me feeling unsettled and angry. I also feel fortunate to be a woman born in the western world allowed freedoms that many woman in other parts of the world do not possess.
If a book has the ability to make a person look deep into their soul, and question if they are doing enough for their brothers and sisters in this world, this book certainly has that potential. For the past two days, I have been mesmerized by the story of this young girl, and what a horrible turn it took at the age of 12. To think that the children of Nepal are being sold and trafficked as human sex slaves in the year 2013 brings me to tears.
This book is just beautiful, the situations described in this book are so authentic, and will grip your heart with each turn of the page. At the end of the book, I found myself holding my breath, scared to breath,as this beautiful young girl finds her voice.
This is a must read for all women.
This is a short (only 3 1/2 hours) powerful story of a frighteningly real horror going on today in Nepal and India. Young girls in the mountains of Nepal are sold by their gullible, desperate parents into what they are told are good jobs as maids in good households in India. What they are really sold into is sexual slavery. They may be sold and resold as they are taken farther and farther into India until they reach a brothel where they are held in captivity and simply used until they sicken and either die or are simply turned out. This story is actually written for young adults, and while it is harsh in its telling of the truth, it's also a story of courage and resiliency and coming of age in a way American children can mostly not imagine.
Ms. Eyre narrates it beautifully, with exactly the right pacing.
I was spellbound, but it was not easy to listen to.
Books make the world a better place
This is a disturbing subject matter and if you are uncomfortable listening to children being abused, misused and trafficked, or if you don’t want to know about the practices of sex-slavery then this book/audiobook is not for you. That being said, I highly recommend this book. It is an upsetting, unforgettable story and well worth the credit you will spend on it.
The first person narrative is a powerful point of view as it really gives you an insight into Lakshmi’s thoughts and everything she sees and feels. The narrator does as excellent job as well and through her voice I was able to experience Lakshmi’s naivety, her confusion, her horror and hopelessness as Lakshmi’s fading memories of her mother and village are replaced with the torment of customers and the abhorrent sexual services she must provide for them. The author writes well as her style flows and her words are poetic. She uses metaphors and similes to reference the life of Lakshmi, placing the reader/listener into Lakshmi’s shoes and into the world of India and Nepal.
We are first introduced to Lakshmi, a poor 13 year old girl, who is living an impoverished life in a small Nepalese village. It is through her innocent, unworldly eyes that her story unfolds. Life in Lakshmi’s village is hard but she is content. She loves to go to school but ever since her father’s death life has gotten harder. She, her mother and her brother reside with her step-father in his hut and although her mother tells Lakshmi that they are lucky to have a man in the house, Lakshmi’s stepfather is of no help. He neither works nor supports them. Instead he passes his time at the teashops where he gambles and sinks them deeper into debt. Lakshmi longingly explains that the Nepali families who have fathers that work well and don’t gamble, have a tin roof for their house.
Although a child herself, Lakshmi worries and she has many responsibilities. She performs daily chores and she must also labor alongside her mother in the field. The work is grueling but her family’s existence depends upon a good return and her participation is the only way their rice-paddy will get planted and harvested. Lakshmi and her mother daydream about the money they will receive from the harvest but in a cruel twist of fate a disastrous rainfall washes away their crop and forever alters Lakshmi’s life. She is told she will have to go to the city and like her friend Gita, she will have to earn money by working as a maid in a ‘rich woman’s home’.
Lakshmi thinks she is on her way to helping her family as she happily envisions a tin roof for her mother and brother. She is ready to go to the city but this does not happen. Lakshmi is sold into prostitution by her step-father. He sells her for 800 rupees to a woman who leads her to the city where she exchanges hands until she is finally given to a man whom she refers to as Uncle Husband. Uncle Husband brings her to India where he sells her to Mumtaz. Mumtaz is the vile mistress and pimp who runs ‘Happiness House’. It is in this brothel house that Lakshmi is imprisoned, beaten, punished, drugged, raped and continually forced into having sex with any and all customers who choose her. Her worst nightmares are realized as her days are filled with unbearable abuse and cruelty. She eventually befriends some of the girls and Pushpa’s son teaches her how to read and write English. Lakshmi experiences a few moments of happiness but for her, hope is fading...until a complete stranger pays her a visit.
This American asks her many questions but she is afraid to answer. He offers her a life away from the brother but she refuses to respond. He leaves without demanding sex and Lakshmi realizes he is different. She yearns to leave Happiness House but Lakshmi is scared to take a chance on the American because it is rumored that they are even worse than Mumtaz and because she has been fooled too many times before. It will take a lot of courage and a leap of faith for Lakshmi to break free from the chains that bind her. Will she do it or will she succumb to the life she was forced into? Of course it is dangerous and any escape will be complicated, especially when the authorities and police are on Mumtaz’s pay roll.
The author’s final note is chilling, making the reader/listener aware that Lakshmi’s story is not so far from the truth: "Each year, nearly 12,000 Nepali girls are sold by their families, intentionally or unwittingly, into a life of sexual slavery in the brothels of India. Worldwide, the U.S. State Department estimates that nearly half a million children are trafficked into the sex trade annually.”
I read a lot but seldom review a book because for the most part they are just entertainment,
A thing you pick up for a few hours and forget in a couple of days. You will not forget this book. If you think this tale could only happen in a foreign country you are wrong. Human trafficking is happing in our country. It is not on the scale you would find in a third world country but it exist. I wish I could honestly say I have always spoken up when I saw a wrong committed. I only know that going forward I will try harder.
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