Sold by Patricia McCormick

“I hurt.

I am torn and bleeding where the men have been.

I pray to the gods to make the hurting go away…

Music and laughter come from the room next door. Horns and shouting come from the street below.

No one can hear me.

Not even the gods.”

Lakshmi lives with her mother, baby brother, and stepfather in a mountain village in rural Nepal.  Her family is very poor, but she lives a happy and peaceful life, until one day, when a stranger approaches the village.  The woman promises her a job as a maid in the city, where she will be able to earn enough money to send it back to her family at home.  Maybe, she dreams, she can buy a tin roof for their home.

However, her dreams turn into a nightmare as she is handed off to “Uncle”, a man who takes her across the border and sells her to Mumtaz, a cruel woman who runs a brothel in Calcutta.  13-year-old Lakshmi is not a maid, she is a child prostitute.  Rather than saving money to help her family, she is forced to sell herself to work off her enormous debt to Mumtaz, enduring countless men, disease, and lecherous doctors.  Not knowing the language, or even exactly where she is, makes escape nearly impossible, until one day, the global aid workers come…

Told in sparse prose, almost verse, the text gives the feel of someone who has weathered a great tragedy.  It’s almost mechanical, in that shock-ridden survivor’s way of speaking.   A horrifying story, made even more chilling and disgusting by the fact that over 12,000 young Nepalese girls are sold into slavery every year.  This National Book Award finalist draws attention to the horrors these girls endure, and the organizations that exist to help them escape.

Author’s website:

I feel like I can’t say “Happy Reading” here, so instead, “Read Because This Story Needs to Be Heard!”

Mccormick, Patricia. Sold. Hyperion Books for Children: New York, 2006. 263 pp.  ISBN: 978-0786851713.  Ages 15 and up.

If you liked this book, try Homeless Bird by Gloria Whelan, or Slave: My True Story by Mende Nazer.

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