Sold / Patricia McCormick.
Booklist Reviews 2006 September #2
Lakshmi, 13, knows nothing about the world beyond her village shack in the Himalayas of Nepal, and when her family loses the little it has in a monsoon, she grabs a chance to work as a maid in the city so she can send money back home. What she doesn't know is that her stepfather has sold her into prostitution. She ends up in a brothel far across the border in the slums of Calcutta, locked up, beaten, starved, drugged, raped, "torn and bleeding," until she submits. In beautiful clear prose and free verse that remains true to the child's viewpoint, first-person, present-tense vignettes fill in Lakshmi's story. The brutality and cruelty are ever present ("I have been beaten here, / locked away, / violated a hundred times / and a hundred times more"), but not sensationalized. An unexpected act of kindness is heartbreaking ("I do not know a word / big enough to hold my sadness"). One haunting chapter brings home the truth of "Two Worlds": the workers love watching The Bold and the Beautifulon TV though in the real world, the world they know, a desperate prostitute may be approached to sell her own child. An unforgettable account of sexual slavery as it exists now. ((Reviewed September 15, 2006)) Copyright 2006 Booklist Reviews
Horn Book Guide Reviews 2007 Spring
McCormick's searing novel, told in a series of poetic vignettes, gives voice to Lakshmi, a thirteen-year-old girl from Nepal who is forced into prostitution in India. Lakshmi's education at the hands of Happiness House's cruel madam is brutal. Readers will admire Lakshmi's bravery and be relieved when she risks trusting the American man who promises to take her to a clean, safe place. Copyright 2007 Horn Book Guide Reviews.
Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2006 #5
McCormick's searing novel, told in a series of poetic vignettes, gives voice to a child forced into prostitution in India. Lakshmi, a thirteen-year-old girl from a poor mountain village in Nepal, thinks she is being hired as a maid when her stepfather "trades" her to a woman for eight hundred rupees. Thus begins a journey to the city, during which Lakshmi's naivetŽ becomes heartbreakingly apparent. At one point her new "auntie" seems to sell her to a man who says she must call him her husband. As the payment changes hands, she thinks, "I do not know what they have agreed to. / But I do know this: / he gives her nearly enough money to buy a water buffalo." But Uncle Husband turns out to be just a middleman shepherding Lakshmi to Happiness House, where the colorful dresses, jewelry, and makeup worn by the girls there lead her to wonder if "Happiness House is where the movie stars live." Of course she soon learns the folly of this first impression. Lakshmi's education into prostitution at the hands of Happiness House's cruel madam, Mumtaz, is brutal. Readers will admire Lakshmi's bravery and be enormously relieved when she risks trusting the American man with "the pink skin of a pig" who promises to take her to a "clean," safe place. Copyright 2006 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.
PW Reviews 2006 August #4
This hard-hitting novel told in spare free verse poems exposes the plight of a 13-year-old Nepali girl sold into sexual slavery. Through Lakshmi's innocent first-person narrative, McCormick (Cut ) reveals her gradual awakening to the harshness of the world around her. Even in their poverty-stricken rural home, Lakshmi finds pleasure in the beauty of the Himalayan mountains, the sight of Krishna, her betrothed, and the cucumbers she lovingly tends, then sells at market. After a monsoon wipes out their crops, her profligate stepfather sells Lakshmi to an "auntie" bound for the city. During her journey, the girl acquires a visual and verbal vocabulary of things she has never seen before: electric lights, a TV. Soon a hard-won sense of irony invades her narrative, too. Early on, a poem entitled "Everything I Need to Know" marks her step into womanhood (after her first menstrual cycle); later, "Everything I Need to Know Now" lists her rules as an initiated prostitute. In her village, Lakshmi had rebelliously purchased her first Coca-Cola for her mother, after her stepfather sold her; later, in Calcutta, she overhears two johns talking and realizes, "the price of a bottle of Coca-Cola at Bajai Sita's store./ That is what he paid for [a turn with] me." The author beautifully balances the harshness of brothel life with the poignant relationships among its residents; especially well-drawn characters include the son of one of the prostitutes, who teaches Lakshmi to read and speak some English and Hindi, and clever Monica, who earns her freedom but gets sent back by her shamed family. Readers will admire Lakshmi's grit and intelligence, and be grateful for a ray of hope for this memorable heroine at book's end. Ages 12-up. (Sept.)[Page 55]. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.