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Sold Hardcover – September 16, 2006

4.6 out of 5 stars 435 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 9 Up – As this heartbreaking story opens, 13-year-old Lakshmi lives an ordinary life in Nepal, going to school and thinking of the boy she is to marry. Then her gambling-addicted stepfather sells her into prostitution in India. Refusing to be with men, she is beaten and starved until she gives in. Written in free verse, the girls first-person narration is horrifying and difficult to read. In between, men come./They crush my bones with their weight./They split me open./Then they disappear. I hurt./I am torn and bleeding where the men have been. The spare, unadorned text matches the barrenness of Lakshmis new life. She is told that if she works off her familys debt, she can leave, but she soon discovers that this is virtually impossible. When a boy who runs errands for the girls and their clients begins to teach her to read, she feels a bit more alive, remembering what it feels like to be the number one girl in class again. When an American comes to the brothel to rescue girls, Lakshmi finally gets a sense of hope. An authors note confirms what readers fear: thousands of girls, like Lakshmi in this story, are sold into prostitution each year. Part of McCormicks research for this novel involved interviewing women in Nepal and India, and her depth of detail makes the characters believable and their misery palpable. This important book was written in their honor.–Alexa Sandmann, Kent State University, OH
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

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. Hazel Rochman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 820L (What's this?)
  • Series: AWARDS: ALA Best Books for Young Adults 2007
  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Disney-Hyperion (September 15, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0786851716
  • ISBN-13: 978-0786851713
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (435 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,100,880 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Written by best-selling author Patricia McCormick, this account of a young girl in India sold into the sex trade is extraordinary. After reading this book, I was stunned by what is occurring to thousands of unsuspecting 13-year old girls in this part of the world.

This book will appeal to adolescents and adults alike in educating about the horrors of a rarely publicized epidemic. You wonder how a value can be placed on innocent children who are being sold for a handful of rupees to help their poor families back home.

The book is written in free verse which makes it a unique and very personal way of seeing the world from the main character, Lakshmi's eyes. I can certainly understand why this book is a National Book Award Finalist and hopefully a winner. However, this book is already a winner in my eyes.

UPDATE 2014: This book was made into a movie and is currently being screened in several film festivals throughout the world. Hopefully, it will soon be available for worldwide distribution.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Writing about how Nepalese girls are sold into slavery and taken to India to be forced into a life of prostitution is no easy matter -- especially in a YA book. Given the topic, Patricia McCormick manages not only to pull it off, but to pull it off with sensitivity.

McCormick is a writer's writer, and the calibre of wordsmithing is a cut above your average YA fare. She first conjures the natural beauty of mountainous Nepal, even though her protagonist, a thirteen-year-old girl named Lakshmi, is dirt poor. Then, for contrast, she describes the claustrophobic penury and filth of Lakshmi's city captivity. In Nepal, our young protagonist lives with her Ama and her evil stepfather (a twist on the Cinderella motif). It is he who ultimately gambles what little they have away and heartlessly sells his stepdaughter into slavery (she assumes she is going off to be a maid and bravely vows to send what she earns home so her Ama can install a tin roof on their hut).

After a grueling trip into India, Lakshmi slowly discovers what's up and refuses to partake, but is drugged and forced to acquiesce. There are two scenes where it is clear what is happening, yet McCormick is anything but brutal and ugly while describing these brutal and ugly acts against an innocent child. Nevertheless, a mature and sensitive reader is called for, and the book is recommended more for high school aged readers and adults.

Written in free verse, an increasingly popular style of writing in the YA trade, SOLD will move you and anger you -- exactly McCormick's intent. It's beautifully written and worth all of the accolades it has received (it is a National Book Award finalist). Highly recommended.
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Format: Paperback
I think this book suffers from an identity crisis that is not AT ALL the fault of the author. I have to say that while the topic of this book is difficult, it is handled in a non-graphic and compelling way. It's beautifully written and is about a subject (girls sold by their poor families in Nepal and taken to India brothels) that needs more public attention.

The issue with this book is that being described as a novel and being listed at 250+ pages is misleading. This is more like a novella or even a short story. It is written in an almost lyrical/poetic style that, while strong, makes the best use of white space. The longest 'chapter' in this book is a page and half long. Most are three paragraphs or less (a few are only a sentence). The rest of the page is left blank. This style of writing is powerful, but I think it should be reflected in the description or in the price. After all, if you were to pick this up but not look inside, you would think it was a normal sized, YA novel, which it clearly is not. It took me just over an hour to read from start to finish.

I hate to give this book a bad review because it IS a well-written book but I felt people thinking of buying this should know what they're getting. It is a wonderful story written in a captivating way, but it is also a novella at best and VERY short. I was glad I got this from the library as I would have felt cheated if I had bought it.
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A Kid's Review on November 11, 2006
Format: Hardcover
This book is a deep and horrifying look at what could happen to any girl in southeast Asia at any time, and that fact alone is why it succeeds. It is an uncensored and very effective view of an unthinkable world, written in first-person and present tense which makes it all the more intense and realistic.

I am 12 years old and I have been aware for quite some time of the basic idea of prostitution, but this book deals with the issue on a much more personal level, and as a result it raises the reader's awareness of just how terrible such a thing is. Even the scenes before the introduction to Happiness House make you feel earnestly sorry for Lakshmi as her poor family struggles with the drought and then the monsoon.

Even though Lakshmi wants nothing more than to leave, she finds friends in some of the other girls of the harem and a few boys from the city. These characters are all just as interesting as the heroine herself, ranging from the cruel manager Mumtaz to the teenage son of one of the older workers at Happiness House. The more grim scenes throughout the book didn't leave a very pleasant feeling in my gut, but they achieve their goal of honoring the bravery of the poor children who really live through this terrifying situation.

While we are left at somewhat of a cliffhanger ending, it is a satisfying conclusion while along the road to it Lakshmi triumphs in all of the ways that matter - from learning how to speak English to standing up to the men who come to violate her every day. Highly reccommended for children and adults alike.
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