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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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.
An innocent Nepali girl, 13, lives with her family in a village far enough away from cities that she has never been to a city. She wants to go to "the city" to work as a housemaid, so when her stepfather sends her off with a woman, she believes she is going off to do housework. She's horrified to learn that she has been sold by her stepfather and is now part of the sex trade in India. It's a very sad tale, and although fictionalized it seems likely that this happens to many impoverished young girls.
Sold ranks amoung one of my favorite audible books!
Lakshmi the main charachter was definitely my favorite. She was naive but also had great wisdom. I loved her ability to do what she needed to do to protect herself.
I have not listened to any other of Justine Eyer's erformances but would deffinitely seek them out after having listened to this one. She was wonderful, and so believeable as a young girl.
The end when Lakshmi ran down to the American and identified herself.
I loved this audible book, I'll listen again, and again.
... But its basically exactly what you would expect from the story with no risks taken or captivating language or style.
Not to say I wanted anything exciting or unusual to happen, but it was basically a plain and generic telling of what happens to one of these poor and unfortunate girls.
That said, it was worth the listen.
Say something about yourself!
This is a sad but triumphant story about a sad state of affairs all over the world. Little children from desperately poor families selling their daughters and sons into slavery. Maybe they were deceived, maybe they knew full well what was going to happen to their offspring. The end was hopeful but I would have liked a few paragraphs on what happened.
The author was kindly vague about the sex, but sex is the purpose of this practice so it had to be there.
Credit worthy, though the price was perfect.
This is a story about young girls, barely out of puberty who are thrust into a world of sexual and physical abuse by both their handlers and customers. Their parents, desperate for money and often with hopes they are sending their children off into the world often do not know they have been duped and their children are headed into an unspeakable existence. People do evil things in the world all in pursuit of lining their pockets. It's a sad state of affairs where young children are sold into prostitution. I want to shame all of those people out there who have no qualms about supporting the industry of child prostitution.
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