Patricia McCormick’s Sold is a thought-provoking YA novel about a young girl who is unknowingly sold into prostitution.
Lakshmi is a brave character who starts out as a twelve year old girl in the Himalayas of Nepal. Her mother is desperately trying to feed her and her baby brother, and her stepfather gambles away what little they have and buys himself luxuries with any of his winnings. When a flood comes through their town, the family’s crops are washed away and Lakshmi goes to work in the city as a maid. However, having never left her small mountain village before, Lakshmi doesn’t realize until too late that her destination isn’t just a city–it’s in another country. And far from doing housework, Lakshmi is one of many girls sold to work in a place called “Happiness House” as a prostitute.
This story is one of survival. It becomes truly thought-provoking to see the horrors sex slaves live through every day through Lakshmi’s experiences and the stories of the girls she meets. The range of characters provides perspective when a range of girls are put into the same situation. While some girls beg to be kept at “Happiness House”, others simply endure, and still others take matters into their own hands and end it with suicide.
The worst part, however, is that the novel is not a dramatized story. McCormick interviewed real survivors of the sex slave and used their stories in her novel. How often have readers wished the places and people were real? Yet, for the two-and-a-half hours it took me to read to novel, 20 to 30 million slaves were living the nightmares expressed on the pages.
It scares me how easily people listen to the statistics but the stories are so easily ignored and forgotten. For this, I greatly praise McCormick for her influential and memorable story which, besides being well-delivered in a beautiful prose form, could change lives by raising awareness of one of the greatest human rights challenges in history.
Lakshmi’s voice was real and intriguing, and although the story mostly took place in “Happiness House”, there was no lack of interesting characters coming and going through Lakshmi’s story. The prose flows beautifully in such a way that it could be easily read in one sitting, which I did.
McCormick’s Sold was one of the best books I’ve read in the past year. I highly recommend it to anyone and everyone, although I would say that the rating is fourteen plus. The majority of the story does take place in a prostitution house, so take from that what you will.
(I wrote this review a year ago, but I’m posting it now because I’m kind of busy today.)