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)
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.
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.
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.
Always moving. Always listening. Always learning. "After all this time?" "Always."
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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Probably not. It wasn't a bad book but the story didn't build to an interesting climax. I get that it's an exposition of child prostitution but it ended too abruptly and was too short. Very good description and plays to all 5 senses.
She has an Indian accent so gave life to the little girl telling the story.
No, it would be too disturbing I think.
The story is universal and has gone on for thousands of years. That this should still be happening to thousands of women and girls is outrageous. It is heart wrenching to hear that even as much as we have evolved, the capacity for cruelty to others in the world is not diminished one bit.
This type of story is always a bit of a tough one for me. These stories are so horrific yet true and current even today. I believe we NEED to hear these stories. So many children, so many PEOPLE are being held against their will and truly have no idea that it is possible to escape. That said, the narration was excellent as was the story telling itself. If you'd like to help young women like the girls in the story, there is a group called "LOVE146" that is doing amazing work with these girls (and boys) around the world.
The power of the human spirit is alive in this story of abuse of power. The young girl in this story is wise beyond her years and she never gives in entirely. She is tested over and over. I could feel my blood boil as I listened. The writing is beautiful. The metaphors and the imagery are superb.
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