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)
Retired Life is great
Betrayal of Innocense
The internal dialogue about trusting anyone - the white man with the white card.
Although I've read nonfiction on human trafficking and viewed documentaries, this book told in first person through the eyes and heart of a 12 year girl had a greater impact.
Such a small book to hold so much emotional truth: fear, horror, despair, hope. The language is simple and straightforward as the story of a 13 year old Nepali girl, sold into sexual slavery unfolds. The world described is ugly, but it is the nascent hope that I carry with me.
Definitely recommended for readers of all ages.
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