Abuse. Sex Trafficking. Children. Poverty. Nepal. Sold by Patricia McCormick is a valuable and enlightening read about those tough subjects; it is a heavy and depressing read as well. Parts of it reminded me of The Kite Runner, but that may be because of the heaviness of the book.
The following book description from Amazon will give you a little better idea of the plot.
"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."
Sold is a valuable read about a part of the world, and a horrible truth many young girls, 12,000 girls every year according to McCormick's Author Note in the back, have to go through. Sold is a tough read, but I'm glad I read it.
I give Sold 4.5 out of 5 stars. It's a powerful story written in free verse with a good plot. The characters and character development were well done; I felt for the characters and all of their emotions. I was sickened when Lakshmi realized what she was sold into prostitution. I felt sorrow for the way the girls were treated. I was disgusted with Lakshmi's father-in-law for selling his daughter for a coat and his debt. I felt pain for the many girls that get tricked into prostitution, abused, and are afraid or feel they can't get out. I felt emotions, and that was well done by McCormick.
The free verse writing makes for a fast read which is perfect for the reluctant reader. The free verse poetry writing style can sometimes be distracting, but Sold wasn't. I actually felt the writing style allowed the reader to think a little harder on what was happening.
The only reason I took off a half a star was the ending. I felt the power of the book and storyline had a deflating ending. I also feel the triumphant story the book description claims is false as well. Sold is an enlightening and powerful story, but not a story of triumph in my opinion.
I liked Sold a lot. Because of the heaviness of the book, and the topic of prostitution and sex trafficking I would say 9th grade is the youngest I'd have read this book. it's a tough book about a tough subject, but a high school English teacher could have some great discussions with it... if it was approved.
If you are looking for a good audio book, the authentic accent makes you really feel like you are in Nepal. Whether you are reading this book or listening to it it will definitely open your eyes to things that are unfortunately happening far too often.
Have you read Sold? What did you think?
Sold by Patricia McCormick
Rating: 4.5/5 stars
Best For: YA and up.
Worth a Check Out: Yes!
Buy It or Not: Depressing read, not sure you'll want to reread it.
Read Aloud: Powerful read aloud in a family setting, or possibly high school English if approved. Would make a great book club read.
Lesson Ideas/Discussion Points: Women's rights, children's rights, sex-trafficking, abuse, poverty, Nepal