74 of 75 people found the following review helpful
on October 15, 2006
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.
41 of 42 people found the following review helpful
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.
34 of 38 people found the following review helpful
on November 11, 2006
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.
30 of 34 people found the following review helpful
on January 27, 2012
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.
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on May 4, 2007
I bought this book for my Freshman English classroom library on the reputation of McCormick's earlier novel "Cut" and as a possible tie-in to Margaret Atwood's "The Handmaid's Tale" (which I read last year w/a Senior class). As other fellow readers have mentioned, the topic of "Sold" is modern-day slavery. The book is written in a series of free verse poems (which seems to be in vogue for many recent YA Lit titles), which allows easy access for many students. Keep in mind, however, the subject matter is rather mature though the lexile level isn't particularly daunting.
For the first quarter of the novel, McCormick does an exceptional job of transporting the Reader to the farmlands of Nepal. I did really feel like I was in another world, very different from my southern Californian environment. The whole process of being sold into slavery is also handled beautifully. It is all very subtle. Only after several entries, does the protagonist (like the Reader) realize the gravity of her situation. Two-thirds of the novel is spent describing life in the brothel: the humiliation, the optimism of leaving, the crushing realization that you can never really leave, mistrust, hope, risk.
Overall, I liked the book. I think it deals with a seldom discussed topic, albeit an important one. McCormick's Afterword at the end of the book really brought the issue home that this is not some isolated case, extraordinary for its uniqueness. It is haunting to think that this story goes on in the lives of thousands of young people every day! The only thing I found fault with the novel was its rather abrupt ending (which I won't spoil). If you purchase "Sold", I don't think you will be disappointed. A very good read.
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on April 13, 2007
Sold brings an important topic that many do not know about or wish not to think about to the surface in this short, poignant tale written in free verse vignettes. The topic of debt slavery and forced prostitution of young children is a touchy one; however, McCormick handles it in such a way that it is not graphic, but saddening, not sensationalistic, but memorable.
This story can easily be read in one sitting, and it would be appropriate for teens and adults alike. Parents or teachers should read this book alongside the teens so they can process the information and perhaps even help evoke change.
According to Teaching Tolerance, there are over 27 million bonded slaves in the world. During the 400 Atlantic Slave Trade, 13 million were taken from Africa, yet we are taught about that regularly. What about these debt slaves? Children can be enslaved for as little as $45 in parental debt. They work as domestics, cigarette rollers, and, like in Sold, as prostitutes.
McCormick's book puts all of this into a personal perspective in his first person narrative of a 13-year-old Nepalese girl Sold to pay off her stepfather's gambling debts.
25 of 29 people found the following review helpful
on January 23, 2007
SOLD tells the story of Lakshmi, who lives in a tiny mountain village in Nepal. She lives in a hut with her stepfather, mother, and baby brother. Poverty is all Lakshmi knows. She speaks of swallowing her spit and pretending it is soup, tightening her waistcloth to fool her belly into thinking it's full, and thickening her stew with dirt. Lakshmi dreams of going to the city like some girls and working for a rich family to send money back to her own relatives on the mountain.
One day her stepfather returns home with a woman he says Lakshmi should call Auntie. He has made a deal for Auntie to take Lakshmi down the mountain to work. It seems her dream has come true, and her journey begins.
Traveling down the Nepalese mountain and across the border into India is at once both exciting and frightening. Lakshmi, whose mountain life has been nothing but poverty and hard work, marvels at the sights and sounds of city life. Trains, buses, cars, and trucks amaze her. There are crowds of people and shops as far as the eye can see.
Lakshmi arrives at her destination. She is told she will be working for a woman she is to call Auntie Mumtaz. Prepared to work hard and earn her keep, Lakshmi is shocked to discover what her real duties will be. She is thrust into the arms of an old man with onion breath. He kisses her and begins to demand the unthinkable. Terrified, Lakshmi runs. Auntie Mumtaz
orders her capture and locks her in a room. After days of starvation, beatings, and cruel treatment, Lakshmi realizes she will need to cooperate to survive.
Patricia McCormick uses a blunt and direct narrative style to present Lakshmi's horrific experiences. The story is heartbreaking, yet uplifting, as Lakshmi shows courage and determination to maintain her identity and survive her ordeal. Readers will hold Lakshmi in their thoughts long after finishing her story.
Reviewed by: Sally Kruger, aka "Readingjunky"
21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
on October 14, 2006
Lakshmi has 13 marks on her mother's chest, showing that she has lived through 13 years. Lakshmi lives in Nepal with her mother, brother, and step-father. Lakshmi's family is so poor they barley afford food. Lakshmi's mother, Ama, works very hard caring things back and forth for the men that work. With that money Lakshmi's step-father gambles it away at the Tea House. Lakshmi goes to school and she is top of her class. Lakshmi loves school, playing with her friend Gita and her goat. But when the Himalayan rains wash away all the family's crops, the family is left with nothing. So Lakshmi's step father sends her off to work for a family to support her family. Lakshmi is tricked into thinking that she will be a maid, but really she is sold into prostitution. Lakshmi moves to a brothel in India to work. She lives in a house called, "The happiness House," with other girls, until she pays off her families debt. Lakshmi's world in a blur, as she lives life at it's worst.
I would give this book five stars. I would rate it the book so high, because of the depth of the writing. This book is a real page turner, because there is no dull part of the book. Patricia McCormick writes about some very hard issues in descriptive vignettes. Sold is written in first person, so the reader can really fell what Lakshmi is going through.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on February 18, 2007
In this book, the main character, Lakshmi, lives in a rural village in the mountains of Nepal. Her family is very poor. So poor, in fact, that they live in a mud hut and rarely have food to eat. In her society, the man must be fed first, so any food that the family does have goes to Lakshmi's stepfather (even though he does not work and usually gambles away any money they do have). Lakshmi's biggest dream is to provide her family with a tin roof for their hut.
Lakshmi's stepfather arranges, he says, for her to go to work in the city as a rich family's maid. Lakshmi is very excited about this opportunity, since it means she will be able to raise the money needed for the tin roof. When she meets the woman who is to take her to the city, she doesn't notice that anything is amiss when the woman pays her stepfather and then hurries her out of town. Yes, Lakshmi has been sold into slavery, but she doesn't realize it yet.
Having been raised in poverty, Lakshmi does not know the ways of the world and has never seen things like cars and televisions. She is amazed by everything she sees while on her trip to "the city". She doesn't quite understand what she is supposed to do, once she is left with a fat woman she is told to call Auntie Mumtaz. Lakshmi is made to change into clothes that are quite revealing and to apply make-up. Also, she is instructed to tell anyone who asks that she is thirteen years old. It isn't until she has a man jump on top of her that she begins to understand that she has been sold into prostitution and is not going to be cleaning houses.
This story is one that you won't want to put down and will leave you thinking about Lakshmi after you're finished. Told through short poems, this story comes alive for the reader. You'll feel Lakshmi's confusion and her hunger, her pain and her eventual relief. It is definitely a story that everyone will enjoy.
13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on September 20, 2007
This book is an eloquent introduction to the shame of the exploitation of children for sex. I have been involved in ending global female exploitation for 30 years. This short, accessible book is the best I have read to create understanding and awareness of this complicated problem. It is a first person narrative written in a simple style. In following the story of one girl, the book deftly explains how this horrible practice occurs and resists eradication. Parents may want to read the book first, but it is appropriate for most teen and adult readers. The sexual descriptions are not graphic or salacious, but focus on the impact on the victim. The wealth of details about life in the mountains and the heroine's journey are fascinating and open a door for American readers to a life far removed from our own experience, a life of beauty and poverty. The author carefully keeps her story from becoming too painful too read, while never flinching from sad realities. Read this in your book club, share it with your daughters, and also with your sons.