This is by far the most powerful story I have read in months. Lakshmi is a thirteen year old girl who lives with her family on a mountain in Nepal. Living in poverty, she jumps at the chance to be able to work to provide money for her family, when her step-father (knowingly or unknowingly) sends her off with a glamorous stranger who promises a good job with a rich family in the city.
Once Lakshmi crosses the border and arrives at her destination she is handed over to Mumtaz, and quickly learns the terrible truth of what is expected of her: prostitution.
This is a beautifully written narrative of life through Lakshmi's eyes. The fear, humiliation and degradation she is subjected to is truly moving. Her strength of character is tested time and again, as she refuses to give up despite her bleak situation. Ultimately she must summon all her courage for a chance for freedom. The joy she feels when being shown the smallest of kindnesses (being given a new pencil, held by a gentle 'customer', and marvelling at her first taste of Coca-Cola) is the most humbling thing I've ever read.
This is a book that makes you think and feel. I'd recommend it to anyone. If parents and guardians are wary then I'd recommend they look over this book before giving it to younger teens, but this is a book with truth, and I don't think it should be censored from younger readers because of its content.
SOLD tells the story of Lakshmi, who lives in a tiny mountain village in Nepal. She lives in a hut with her stepfather, mother, and baby brother. Poverty is all Lakshmi knows. She speaks of swallowing her spit and pretending it is soup, tightening her waistcloth to fool her belly into thinking it's full, and thickening her stew with dirt. Lakshmi dreams of going to the city like some girls and working for a rich family to send money back to her own relatives on the mountain.
One day her stepfather returns home with a woman he says Lakshmi should call Auntie. He has made a deal for Auntie to take Lakshmi down the mountain to work. It seems her dream has come true, and her journey begins.
Traveling down the Nepalese mountain and across the border into India is at once both exciting and frightening. Lakshmi, whose mountain life has been nothing but poverty and hard work, marvels at the sights and sounds of city life. Trains, buses, cars, and trucks amaze her. There are crowds of people and shops as far as the eye can see.
Lakshmi arrives at her destination. She is told she will be working for a woman she is to call Auntie Mumtaz. Prepared to work hard and earn her keep, Lakshmi is shocked to discover what her real duties will be. She is thrust into the arms of an old man with onion breath. He kisses her and begins to demand the unthinkable. Terrified, Lakshmi runs. Auntie Mumtaz orders her capture and locks her in a room. After days of starvation, beatings, and cruel treatment, Lakshmi realizes she will need to cooperate to survive.
Patricia McCormick uses a blunt and direct narrative style to present Lakshmi's horrific experiences. The story is heartbreaking, yet uplifting, as Lakshmi shows courage and determination to maintain her identity and survive her ordeal. Readers will hold Lakshmi in their thoughts long after finishing her story.
I really enjoyed this book. It's shocking what goes on in the world. I've read a few of this genre now, and if youm enjoy this you'll also enjoy 'The Locket and a Five Taka Note.' Once again, a real eye opener, but a story of courage.