Author: Patricia McCormick
Narrated by: Justine Eyre
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
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.
I usually do not prefer audiobooks. I just don't really have the patience or the attention span to listen to them. But I have had barely any time to read lately. I have a 40+ minute drive to and from school every day, and decided to try it out. With nothing else to distract me in the car, and nothing else to do, I figured might as well get some "reading" done. It was much easier to pay attention in the car, and so I managed to make it through this audiobook.
Lakshmi is a young, Nepali girl. Her family is poor, living in a small village in the mountains. Her stepfather gambles away all their money, but for the most part, Lakshmi is happy with her mother and baby brother. But then, her father sells her to a city woman. Lakshmi thinks she will be used as a servant in a wealthy home, but soon finds out the worst thing imaginable: she has been sold into prostitution. Forced into a debt that will be nearly impossible to pay back, Lakshmi sees no way out.
This book was a deeply emotional book. It is very sad, heart-wrenching, and eye-opening. McCormick did a wonderful job of making us feel what Lakshmi was going through. This is such an ugly story to write, but it was written quite beautifully. It isn't super graphic, although I probably wouldn't recommend it for younger audiences. There were some more...uncomfortable situations, which is why it may only be appropriate for older audiences, but it was needed for the story it tells.
It was very clear that McCormick did her research for this book. The details were well thought out and written. She did a good job of location, setting the feeling for Lakshmi's Nepalese village, but also the transition from the villages into India and the big cities. But McCormick also did a good job of writing the girls, how each one of them feels about their plight. What brought them there, what keeps them there, what happens there.
I did not like the narrator for this one. Her fake accent was annoying, and not at all close. (And the accent she gave to the Americans...what? It was painful to listen to.) It didn't turn me off the book completely, but I felt I couldn't enjoy it fully because her voice grated on my ears. The book is also written in free verse poetry, although I didn't even realize that at first because it's hard to tell with the audio.
Sold was meant to be a powerful, haunting story of what really goes on behind the sex slave industry. It was meant to open eyes about poor girls who go off to be maids, and instead what ends up happening to them. It was built on the stories and interviews of many girls who actually went through this. Although a fictional story, it isn't fiction. This truly does go on in real life. I would definitely recommend it to anyone. (Although it is labeled for younger audiences, I would go a little bit older because of the content.)