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Sold

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Overview

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...

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Overview

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.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
This hard-hitting novel told in spare free verse poems exposes the plight of a 13-year-old Nepali girl sold into sexual slavery. Through Lakshmi's innocent first-person narrative, McCormick (Cut) reveals her gradual awakening to the harshness of the world around her. Even in their poverty-stricken rural home, Lakshmi finds pleasure in the beauty of the Himalayan mountains, the sight of Krishna, her betrothed, and the cucumbers she lovingly tends, then sells at market. After a monsoon wipes out their crops, her profligate stepfather sells Lakshmi to an "auntie" bound for the city. During her journey, the girl acquires a visual and verbal vocabulary of things she has never seen before: electric lights, a TV. Soon a hard-won sense of irony invades her narrative, too. Early on, a poem entitled "Everything I Need to Know" marks her step into womanhood (after her first menstrual cycle); later, "Everything I Need to Know Now" lists her rules as an initiated prostitute. In her village, Lakshmi had rebelliously purchased her first Coca-Cola for her mother, after her stepfather sold her; later, in Calcutta, she overhears two johns talking and realizes, "the price of a bottle of Coca-Cola at Bajai Sita's store./ That is what he paid for [a turn with] me." The author beautifully balances the harshness of brothel life with the poignant relationships among its residents; especially well-drawn characters include the son of one of the prostitutes, who teaches Lakshmi to read and speak some English and Hindi, and clever Monica, who earns her freedom but gets sent back by her shamed family. Readers will admire Lakshmi's grit and intelligence, and be grateful for a ray of hope for this memorable heroine at book's end. Ages 12-up. (Sept.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature - Uma Krishnaswami
While her mother would have liked thirteen-year-old Lakshmi to stay in school, Lakshmi instead experiences the cruel fate that is all too commonplace in some poverty-stricken rural regions of Nepal. She is sold by her stepfather to cover his gambling debts and ends up in a brothel in India. McCormick takes on the human rights issue of young girls sold into prostitution in this fictional first person story. The book brings the reader to an understanding that is certainly deeper than the superficiality of Gloria Whelan's comparable Homeless Bird, which also addresses a social issue of the subcontinent, the plight of child widows. In this title the brothel scenes are heart-rending, and McCormick uses language both lyrical and spare to lead the reader into this deeply troubled and troubling world. The occasional, unpredictable kindness of strangers keeps Lakshmi's strength of purpose alive so that in the end she is able to make a bid for freedom. McCormick's unrhymed verse seems to ride the fragility of Lakshmi's bruised spirit. Some cultural touches seem less deft. The narrator's voice wavers during descriptions of customs and festivals, context descriptions that convey the particular fascinations of a visitor rather than the familiarity of one speaking from within. The ultimate resolution of Lakshmi's escape being made possible by Americans feels disappointing. It seems to run counter to the heartfelt tale in the afterword about Nepali women, some of them survivors of brothel life, working to fight this sinister trade. Still, this is a story of courage, which is precisely what it takes to plant one's literary work in unfamiliar soil.
VOYA - Vikki Terrile
Thirteen-year-old Lakshmi is like most girls-she helps her mother, plays with her baby brother, and dreams of one day marrying and having babies of her own. When the monsoons destroy the crops on her family's Nepal farm, her stepfather arranges for her to leave their village to become a maid for a rich lady in the city. Instead Lakshmi is sold into a Calcutta brothel, facing unspeakable cruelty and horror, her memories of home all she has to help her endure. McCormick tells Lakshmi's story in brief, poetic scenes, painting a haunting and thought-provoking picture of helplessness and hope. The writing is breathtaking in both its simplicity and its attention to detail. Scenes in the brothel are tenderly drawn, as Lakshmi and the other girls and women strive to find the smallest bit of joy in the bleakness of their lives. The juxtaposition of Lakshmi's life in her village, where electricity is a luxury, against the city with its cell phones and soap operas is jarring, an eerie reminder to the reader that nightmares like hers are happening right now in cities around the world. This novel is not to be missed, and readers will find themselves thinking about Lakshmi and the real girls whose lives inspired this stunning novel long after they turn the last page.
KLIATT
To prepare to write this novel (in poetry format), McCormick traveled to Nepal and India to interview prostitutes in brothels and also girls who have been rescued from the sex trade. In her note at the end of the story she says, "Each year, nearly 12,000 Nepali girls are sold by their families--intentionally or unwittingly--to a life of sexual slavery in the brothels of India. Worldwide, the US State Department estimates that nearly half a million children are trafficked into the sex trade each year." Sold is the story of one young Nepali girl who is sold by her stepfather into prostitution. She is 14-years-old when she is rescued by some Americans who visit brothels in India to find young girls who want to escape. Lakshmi is the narrator. She is a young village girl with a loving mother, baby brother, and greedy stepfather in Nepal, where such girls and women in general know no other way than to obey the men in their family. Soon after she gets her first period, her stepfather starts looking at her as a thing to sell for a profit, not as a human being. In the narrative, McCormick details how the cruel system works, with nanve girls believing they are going to get jobs as maids to send money to their family. They end up in brothels with no way to escape. The life in the brothels is described in some detail, from the beatings and the drugging of innocent young girls to force them to submit to men, to the dubious joy of TV and babies, to the way some few girls are being rescued. It's frightening--most girls become diseased, dying young of AIDS. The men who pay the brothel owners to sleep with the girls are not required to wear condoms, and the girls have no power to protect themselves. Thisis an important story, and McCormick tells it well. The cover, a photograph of the face of a young girl, is compelling. KLIATT Codes: JSA--Recommended for junior and senior high school students, advanced students, and adults. 2006, Hyperion, 264p., $15.99.. Ages 12 to adult.
—Claire Rosser
KLIATT - Claire Rosser
To quote the review of the hardcover in KLIATT, September 2006: To prepare to write this novel (in poetry format), McCormick traveled to Nepal and India to interview prostitutes in brothels and also girls who have been rescued from the sex trade. In her note at the end of the story she says, "Each year, nearly 12,000 Nepali girls are sold by their families—intentionally or unwittingly—to a life of sexual slavery in the brothels of India. Worldwide, the US State Department estimates that nearly half a million children are trafficked into the sex trade each year." Sold is the story of one young Nepali girl who is sold by her stepfather into prostitution. She is 14 years old when she is rescued by some Americans who visit brothels in India to find young girls who want to escape. Lakshmi is the narrator. She is a young village girl with a loving mother, baby brother, and greedy stepfather in Nepal, where such girls and women in general know no other way than to obey the men in their family. Soon after she gets her first period, her stepfather starts looking at her as a thing to sell for a profit, not as a human being. In the narrative, McCormick details how the cruel system works, with naive girls believing they are going to get jobs as maids to send money to their family. They end up in brothels with no way to escape. The life in the brothels is described in some detail, from the beatings and the drugging of innocent young girls to force them to submit to men, to the dubious joy of TV and babies, to the way some few girls are being rescued. It's frightening—most girls become diseased, dying young of AIDS. The men who pay the brothel owners to sleep with the girls arenot required to wear condoms, and the girls have no power to protect themselves. This is an important story, and McCormick tells it well. The cover, a photograph of the face of a young girl, is compelling. (A National Book Award finalist, and an ALA Best Book for YAs.) Reviewer: Claire Rosser
School Library Journal
Gr 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 girl's 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 Lakshmi's new life. She is told that if she works off her family's 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 author's note confirms what readers fear: thousands of girls, like Lakshmi in this story, are sold into prostitution each year. Part of McCormick's 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 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
In her village in Nepal, Lakshmi's life is more than difficult and requires her to endure hunger, harsh weather and poverty. When she is sold to an itinerant "Auntie," she thinks she'll be working as a maid in the city. She's determined to excel, even though she can't imagine the place. She arrives in a brothel, working in guaranteed slavery until she is broken or dies, astonished at the charges beyond what she could possibly earn for everything she touches. The harshness of her life in this new country of India, feeling torn from all that is familiar, comes close to crushing her, yet she endures. The tiny moments of peace, learning the words in books, the friendships and respect that develop provide a relief for readers even as admiration for Lakshmi's strength and capacity for sorrow grows. Written as a prose poem, Sold focuses on the essential question of whether it is possible to trust when all that one has trusted has been proven untrustworthy. McCormick provides readers who live in safety and under protection of the law with a vivid window into a harsh and cruel world-one most would prefer to pretend doesn't exist. (Fiction. YA)
From the Publisher
"Hard-hitting . . . poignant. The author beautifully balances the harshness of brothel life with the poignant relationships among its residents." —-Publishers Weekly Starred Review
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780786851720
  • Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
  • Publication date: 4/1/2008
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 272
  • Sales rank: 43,768
  • Age range: 14 - 17 Years
  • Lexile: 820L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.58 (w) x 8.28 (h) x 0.61 (d)

Meet the Author

To research Sold, Patricia McCormick traveled to India and Nepal where she interviewed the women of Calcutta's red-light district and girls who have been rescued from the sex trade. She is also the author of the acclaimed novels Cut and My Brother's Keeper.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 349 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(220)

4 Star

(88)

3 Star

(26)

2 Star

(8)

1 Star

(7)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 350 Customer Reviews
  • Posted December 6, 2009

    Sold Review

    I thought this was a very touching and well written book. The ways she wrote it with all of the sub-titles then following with words as if the main charachter Lakshimi was keeping a journal. This book also made me realize how real sexual slavery is to this day. These girls are ripped of everything they've ever had to live a life of giving themselves to ruthless men each day. McCormick does an awesome job of capturing this girls life and she had hope through it all.

    18 out of 20 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 3, 2010

    Overall a Great Book

    I read this book in one day. It has over 300 pages, but most only have a few words. It is an easy read, easy to follow and understand, but I got confused with the different characters and their unfamiliar names. The story was good, it kept me hooked. I hadn't been able to read a book to the end in a while. The ending was unexpected, as in I didn't expect it so fast. This was a good book, I recommend it.

    14 out of 16 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 1, 2010

    AMAZING

    I personally loved this book. IT was touching and sad. The part that hit me most was her loss of everything she knew and loved. This is really going on in the world and it needs to stop. This book has opened up my knowledge of what is really going on in this world we live in. I would definitly recommend this to anyone and everyone. IT will touch and break your heart

    9 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 15, 2013

    BACK OFF PEOL BACK OFF

    Oh my gosh, people keep saying not for children, but seriously, I'm 13 and I'm in a book club where we 're reading this book. Of course, it's a book club for ADVANCED 12 year olds and up, but still. Normally 12 and 13-year olds aren't babies, and can read books with mature themes. Besides, it's up to the kid and their parents whether they should read a book or not. If my mom disapproved of Sold and wanted to pull me out of this book club, she could have. Take it from me, I read Les Miserables, a deep and complex book that deals with subjects such as prostitution, when I was 12. TWELVE. So, yeah, just making a point.

    8 out of 30 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 10, 2010

    Impacting Class of 2010

    The story is really impacting. It helps in understanding how little girls in different countries are put into prostitution by their parents being tricked. The story is about a young girl named Lakshmi who is 13 years old and is taken from her home thinking that she is going to go work, but ends up being put into prostitution. The story is an easy read, anybody could read it. Recommened for ages 15 and up because its a bit explict.

    6 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 23, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Sold, A book review

    Lakshmi at age 13 has never been outside her village she lives a normal life Nepal going to school and helping her mom with chores. Than it all changes. Lakshmi wanted to go into the city to work as a maid for a rich family but instead her gambling stepfather has different plans for her, she is sold into prostitution in a Indian brothel. She dose not do what she is told until she was starved. Lakshmi was told by her owner that if she pays off her family's debt she can leave and go back home, but she soon finds out that her owner has been cheating her and that it IS impossible to pay off her family's debt. When a young boy bring her food she starts to have hope, he was met with a American client that is there to rescue girls she has to figure out weather to trust him or not. The author writes the book in first person in a very detailed manner making it possible to imagine what is going on in her life in the areas surrounding India. After reading this book I was more stunned to know what is happening in the world.

    6 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 7, 2009

    sold review

    Sold is written by Patricia McCormick. It is about a young girl in India named Lakshmi. She is sold into sex trade by her stepfather so that she could get money and help her family with it. I thought this book was very good. It can be a little emotional and it is totally unforgettable. It was very descriptive and graphic. I would recommend this to anyone. I prefer and young, mature adult. This book I think could change their mind about other people and life in general. I would give this book a four star rating.

    5 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 26, 2012

    I Also Recommend:

    An Impactful Read - Something Everyone Should Read

    Sold by Patricia McCormick is a hard-hitting read about a thirteen year old girl, Lakshmi, living in the Himalayan Mountains of Nepal. Though her and her family live in poverty, Lakshmi finds pleasure in the simple things in life until one day her stepfather decides she needs to go and earn money for their family after a monsoon sweeps away all of their crops. Her stepfather gives her away to a woman and Lakshmi finds herself being promised of a beautiful city and a life as a maid. After traveling to India, she finds that she has instead been sold into prostitution. The innocent Lakshima now must live the life of a prostitute and pay off her family’s debt to the cruel brothel ruler Mumtaz. She dreams of returning to her simple life on the mountain as she loses her innocence and becomes just another young girl stuck in the dirty business of the sex trade.
    This book really showed the suffering that many women in countries such as Nepal and India go through. I saw the theme and messages as though some of these women are sold into the trade and learn to endure it, that there is always hope and all it takes is one girl to stand up against the rest. This book really conveyed the idea that even in the darkest of times there is hope.
    I really love how the author chose to write Sold. The first person narrative really gives you the insight to Lakshmi’s thoughts and everything she sees as a young girl who is being sold as a sex slave. You can really feel the confusion that a girl in this situation would feel, from being a new place to learning about a dirty business that no one should have to endure. The writing style flows and is poetic, with metaphors and similes referencing the life of Lakshmi that really puts you into her shoes and into the world of India and Nepal.
    The only thing I didn’t enjoy about this book was some of the details on the subject matter. The author could really describe the sounds, smells, and sights of the brothel and all that went on in it. This subject is hard to read about and sometimes these details made the book uncomfortable to read, but I know that those details were needed for the book to have the impact that it did.
    I recommend this book to anyone that is willing to read it. The subject matter is a horrible thing, but it is impactful and allows you to get an insight on what people around the world are dealing with. If you’re willing to get the details of the sex trade, this book is a quick read with description and information that will have an impact on your life.

    3 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 31, 2013

    Wow, after reading the comments about this book, I'm appalled. T

    Wow, after reading the comments about this book, I'm appalled. This story was exceptionally written; although short and simple, it was powerful. I love the word choice, recall, and symbolism used here. I was also moved by the effortlessness McCormick showed to writing through the eyes of a 13 year old, naive, village girl transitioning into a 13 year old, jaded, slave. I cried a lot reading this. Because there's someone who goes through this everyday. Deep book. 

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 17, 2012

    This book was written simply through the eyes of a 13 year old g

    This book was written simply through the eyes of a 13 year old girl, sold into the sex industry in India. Though thought provoking, and sad, it didn't do much for me. Also it was extremely short, where a chapter is only a paragraph. It was not worth the money for that alone.

    2 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 29, 2012

    Sold

    A good book

    2 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 23, 2012

    I loved it !

    I love this book it is a sad story this made me belive even more that one person can make a big difference :)

    2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 25, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Prose Poetry Narration at its Finest

    Patricia McCormick's story of a young girl from Nepal who is sold into sexual slavery is told in prose poetry, which only heightens the connection between narrator and reader. By utilizing this writing style, McCormick is effectively able to get us into the head of the young girl, from her early naivete to the way she begins to understand her situation. She is trapped, we learn, and as Sold is told from her point of view, we learn just how dire her situation is as she does. Who should she trust? Who do we trust? Should she listen to the woman in charge or to the other girls or to her own heart and mind? Sold is an emotionally riveting story that exposes readers to an entire world of young girls in other parts of the earth. I know that, for me, it touched my heart and made me want to learn more, especially learn how to help young girls like her.

    2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 9, 2014

    This book it the best book ever the author did a amazing job wri

    This book it the best book ever the author did a amazing job writing it. LOVED IT!!!!!!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 14, 2012

    blah

    i havent read it and i have no clue what it is about, but it looks cool, bro.

    1 out of 18 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 4, 2012

    Sold was dumb

    Made white people look like heros .






    1 out of 19 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 9, 2011

    Really good book, a must- read!

    Sold is about 13 year old Pakistani girl Lakshmi, who gets sold into prostitution by her step-father, so he can pay off his debt. This book is a tough read, so I would reccomend it to an older, more mature audience, because it is pretty graphic, and was not meant for younger kids. This is a really sad, well- written book, and I enjoyed it alot. -Ruby

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 7, 2011

    great book

    Its a great read

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 15, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    One word title "SOLD" is perfect.

    I cried, I smiled, I was relieved and felt the pressure. This book was beyond what I'd expect. It's lite reading yet overwhelmingly empowering and just touches one's soul. I'd recommend to all women and girls of all ages, we tend to take so much for granted and not living in poverty or such dire hardships we are left constantly with smiles on our faces many women are afraid to even think happy thoughts. I feel for those in the book and in life who have to go through such hardships. Good Read.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 13, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Unbelievable

    After reading Sold my view of the world was drastically changed. I wrote my college application essay on how this book changed my life. I think it's a must read plain and simple. Once finished I had a new appreciation for all I was blessed with because compared to the women in this book I'm living like royalty. The hard truth of Sold is earth shattering.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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