Sold


Sold, by Patricia McCormick book cover

Sold (Mature Teen)
By Patricia McCormick

Set in Nepal, A heart wrenching story written in first person about a thirteen-year-old girl, Lakshmi, who is sold into the sex trade by her drunken stepfather. McCormick creates a vivid picture of the horrors a child faces and the cold-heartedness of family and a society that turns a blind eye. When Lakshmi has lost all hope, help shows up from an unexpected source.  A difficult read but an important tribute to the girls and women forced to live in such hopeless circumstances.


Genre: 

Contemporary Setting India/ Nepal, Disturbing Societal-Issues and Familial Issues





Why this is a Good Book For Teenage Girls






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.


About the Author

Patricia McCormick, a 2006 finalist for the National Book Award, is the author of four critically acclaimed novels - Purple Heart, a suspenseful psychological novel that explores the killing of a 10-year-old boy in Iraq; Sold, a deeply moving account of sexual trafficking; My Brother's Keeper, a realistic view of teenage substance abuse and Cut, an intimate portrait of one girl's struggle with self-injury. 
 
McCormick was named a New York Foundation on the Arts fellow in 2004. She is also the winner of the 2009 German Peace Prize for Youth Literature. 
 
She is a graduate of the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and lives Manhattan. 



From School Library Journal

Grade 9 Up – As this heartbreaking story opens, 13-year-old Lakshmi lives an ordinary life in Nepal, going to school and thinking of the boy she is to marry. Then her gambling-addicted stepfather sells her into prostitution in India. Refusing to be with men, she is beaten and starved until she gives in. Written in free verse, the girls first-person narration is horrifying and difficult to read. In between, men come./They crush my bones with their weight./They split me open./Then they disappear. I hurt./I am torn and bleeding where the men have been. The spare, unadorned text matches the barrenness of Lakshmis new life. She is told that if she works off her familys debt, she can leave, but she soon discovers that this is virtually impossible. When a boy who runs errands for the girls and their clients begins to teach her to read, she feels a bit more alive, remembering what it feels like to be the number one girl in class again. When an American comes to the brothel to rescue girls, Lakshmi finally gets a sense of hope. An authors note confirms what readers fear: thousands of girls, like Lakshmi in this story, are sold into prostitution each year. Part of McCormicks research for this novel involved interviewing women in Nepal and India, and her depth of detail makes the characters believable and their misery palpable. This important book was written in their honor.–Alexa Sandmann, Kent State University, OH 
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