Written by: Patricia McCormick
Publication Information: Originally published 2006. This edition published in 2008 by Hyperion.
One Line: When 13-year-old Nepali girl Lakshmi is sent to the big city to work as a maid to earn money for her family, she is actually excited – until she learns she has been sold into sexual slavery.
Brief Summary: 13-year-old Lakshmi lives in a tiny village in Nepal with her mother, stepfather, and infant brother, one of five her mother has given birth to since Lakshmi but the only one to survive. Lakshmi and her mother do much of the work: growing food, carting water up and down the hill, fixing the roof. While her mother wants her to go to school, Lakshmi wishes she could work as a maid in the city, like one of her friends, so she can send money back to her family for a new roof. Her stepfather is virtually useless: because one of his arms was broken as a child, he claims no one will hire him, and he sits around gambling in the tea room in town. After a monsoon
Thoughts: Told from Lakshmi’s point of view in short, titled, poetic free verse vignettes, Sold is a powerful story from the beginning. This is a part of the world most Americans are not experienced with, and the shock of realizing that a 13-year-old does not know what a car or television is, and has never seen a movie, soon pales in comparison to the horror of seeing that 13-year-old forced into prostitution and held captive by a woman, no less. McCormick does a wonderful job of setting mood, with vivid descriptions leading to clear pictures of places and incidents. McCormick’s characterizations are also excellent, from the stepfather (who could easily become a caricature, but is not, largely due to Lakshmi’s unwillingness to completely vilify him) to the women in the brothel, some cruel, some sisterly, all complex. Lakshmi retains her humanity in the brothel, and her strength is a lesson for getting through hard times and situations beyond your control. Her relationship with the young son of one of the prostitutes – in which he teaches her to read Hindi and English and she makes him a soccer ball out of her old clothes – is a beautiful one, and that Lakshmi is still trying to educate herself is inspirational. McCormick clearly thinks it is important for young women to be educated, and education is a motif that comes up frequently. Knowledge is power, and sheltering people from the truths of the world does not help them to avoid terrible situations – although at 13, Lakshmi could not possibly have known what would happen, her mother conceivably actually thought she was going to be a maid, and would likely never had allowed Lakshmi to leave had she known the truth. This book is also important for educating the rest of the world about the plight of these woman; in order to stop these atrocities, we must know about them.
Author Information: From www.goodreads.com: “Patricia McCormick is a journalist and writer. She graduated from Rosemont College in 1978, followed by an M.S. from Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism in 1986 and an M.F.A. from New School University in 1999. Her first novel for teens was Cut, about a young woman who self-injures herself. This was followed by My Brother's Keeper in 2005, about a boy struggling with his brother's addiction and Sold in 2006. Her awards include the American Library Association Best Book of the Year, New York Public Library Best Book for the Teenaged and the Children’s Literature Council’s Choice.
She has written for The New York Times, Parents Magazine, The New York Times Book Review, Ladies Home Journal, Town & Country, More, Reader’s Digest, Mademoiselle and other publications and has been an adjunct professor of journalism at Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and an instructor of creative writing at the New School University. She lives in New York with two children, a husband and two cats.”