Audie Award Finalist, Package Design, 2014
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)
Audible listener who's grateful for a long commute!
Patricia McCormick's "Sold" (2006) is nominally a Young Adult novel. According to the current version of Wikipedia, that means writing directed at readers age 14 to 21. The narrator, Lakshmi, is 13 and turns 14 during the novel, so nominally, it is about a young adult.
In actuality, "Sold" is incredibly disturbing but not graphic story. Lakshmi becomes one of thousands of Nepalese children traded into modern sexual slavery. Her mother, Ama, is a typical failure of an uneducated mother, raised to please men, and unable to care for her oldest child. Unnamed stepfather sees Lakshmi as a possession to be sold as a maid and house cleaner to pay off his gambling debts. Lakshmi is traded three or four times, each time for more money. Eventually, she lands in brothel called Happiness House. There's an evil, cheating Madam, Mumtaz, who sells Lakshmi's innocence, twice.
Stock characters aside, "Sold" is a well researched and sensitive portrayal of crimes that the United Nations has been trying to stop for decades. It's one thing to read dry numbers about crop failures, annual family incomes, and human smuggling, but that's not really effective with people born in wealthy countries like the United States. There is poverty in America, but it's not the kind of poverty that regularly claims more than half of its children in their first year. There are droughts, but they don't result in mass starvation. And education is mandatory, not a luxury.
A book like "Sold" makes it possible to empathize with a country and culture so different that even the statistics don't make the situation real.
Would I let my kids read/listen to this? Yes, and I have no reservations about my senior in high school with this book. My 14 year old? Well, it's nightmare-inducing scary. I'm glad I listened to it first so I'll be able to answer questions she'll have if she does read.
The Audible is fine, and the narrator handles non-Western names with ease. I would have been fine reading this in text, though - to me, Nepali and Indian names sound like they are written. Years of listening to Lakshmi Singh/NPR will do that for you.
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This book is written through the eyes of a poor and innocent girl who thinks she is going to be work as a maid but is sold into sex slavery. The author unfolds a gripping story about the trafficking of children, the oppressed life they lead and their struggle to stay alive and gain freedom. It is sad but also inspiring and informative.
It is hard to believe that this life exists. Who could treat a young girl as a sex slave; yet this happens today. Told from her perspective, the story is haunting and stays with you. We need to do everything in our power to stop this horrific practice. Hard subject matter.
um not so sure but it could be interesting to explore it.
Interesting: desire to survive, desire to win. Least interesting: constant whining, the Americans who are always there to save the world apparently from itself.
When she was crossing the border and the guy asked her to call him husband. She referred to him since then as uncle-husband.
I guess so since the Americans are heroes and saviours.
What I didn't get is why one of the American was set to save this one girl that he happened to be alone with and completely forgot about the other girls. The ending could have been better. It made absolutely no sense to me.
I don't read a lot of Young Adult books and when I do I like to read contemporary YA. Sold was a lot heavier than I was expecting mainly it caught my attention many years ago and I forgot what it was about. Because of the heavy topic I won't call this an enjoyable listening experience, instead I will call it memorable. I don't think I will be forgetting Sold and it's main character, Lakshmi, anytime soon.
The narrator, Justine Eyre, brought Lakshmi's voice alive and at time I forgot that I was listening to a grown woman read me a story instead of a young girl telling me her experience. Eyre has a real talent with voices and accents and coupled with the story they went together perfectly.
Overall Recommendation: Read
While I liked Sold and the audiobook version. I think it is a story better read then listened too. The subject matter is just too deep and at times I wish I could stop the audio and take it back up later like a book. It's harder to do that with audiobooks because it's harder to judge natural breaks in the story. I will say that the audiobook worked nicely with the vignette style of the book.
Sometimes it is hard to hear and learn that there are people who would treat other human beings in this way.
Well written story.
Retired CFO, Army wife, Mom of five, Grandma of six, two sons who served in combat, love to read books that reflect my values and faith, love mysteries, historical, military stories, and books that don't waste my time . . . if it doesn't have an ending that was worth the wait, I'm not a happy camper.
When I hear of or read a book like "Sold", the first thing that goes through my mind is this, "There but for the grace of God, go we." Though this book is fictional and supposedly geared toward a teen audience, it's a book that EVERYONE needs to read/hear. We, as Americans, have gotten so comfortable in our living rooms with our electronic gadgets, in our fancy SUVs and cars, living in a world where our bellies are full and sometimes our spirits are empty. Even when we HEAR about girls like Lakshmi who are sold in order to work and provide money for their families, it's all too easy to push those unpleasant thoughts back out of our tidy little minds. And it's too easy to say, "Oh, we could never do such a thing . . ." This story of 13 year old Lakshmi, whose step father decided she must be sold to provide money for the family, made me once again re-examine my own values, my own pride and status. I was NOT born in Nepal, Praise God for that. My own parents, though far from perfect, didn't have to decide whether or not to sell me. I was not forced into prostitution as a child. I am humbled by these facts,and I KNOW they are not mistakes. We are NOT given gifts to be squandered. We are not shown the truth to cover it back up again. "Sold" is a mighty story of strength and love, of depravity and abuse. Let's not allow this book to go into one ear and out the other.
This is one of the best audiobooks I have listened too, albeit one of the most difficult to stomach. Lakshmi's story is fictional, but is also a representative for the thousands of girls who get trafficked each year. The books is written from the perspective of a 13-year-old Nepalese girl, and the language and narration reflect this. It makes for a very powerful story.
Justine Eyre does an excellent job bringing Lakshmi to life. It is read with a Nepali accent, which would not have translated had I read the book.
Yes. It is only about 2 hrs and 45 minutes. I listened to it on a 3-hour road trip.
This is one of the rare audio books that I would listen to again. Beautiful, simple, poetic prose, a compelling story and perfect narration.
The early scenes of the simple joys of a young girl in spite of her hard life in Napal.
I thought her accented interpretation was excellent. Hearing the first-person narrative read in an Indian voice added to the story's authenticity.
The entire story has a tremendous emotional impact. It is heartbreaking to know that this story could be what thousands of young girls have endured.
All I could think the entire time was that this is the sadist story I have ever listened to. It is tragic to realize that this actually happens to young girls.
Lakshmi is so very engaging that you have to attach to her and hope for her escape.
The narrator's voice brings Lakshmi to life. You feel as if she is really telling her story. You feel her ever emotion.
The book is simple and to the point. It moves quickly. It is so descriptive that as the listener you can envision everything she talks about in very few words.
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