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)
I enjoyed this story very much. It was well written and full of wonderful characters. It is not my normal genre. I listened to it twice none time right after the other.
An outstanding and almost visceral journey into the seedy world of human trafficking, the perils of family betrayal, and The wellspring of hope that comes of simple acts of humanity. This was a powerful read, and a wake up call to the tragedy of human slavery even in our modern world.
mrs farm girl
Well worth the read. A wonderful narrator paints a vivid picture of hope and despair as the girl tries to survive her experience.
Mercifully, less brutal and viscerally told than it might have been, this is an engaging tale of true life inhumanity and the hope that dares survive such circumstances.
Realistic, captivating account without being overly dramatized, yet heartwrenchingly sad. The narration was one of the best I've heard. Justine became Lakshmi. Excellent portrayal of a tragic situation.
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.
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