Although her family is extremely poor, 13-year-old Lakshmi’s young life in a mountainous village in Nepal is not without moments of great joy and comfort. But then the monsoons arrive, leaving behind only destruction and deprivation. Lakshmi’s stepfather decides she must leave the family, and somehow support the family.
For the promise of 800 rupees and a job as a maid, Lakshmi follows a “lovely city woman” down the mountain with hopes of saving her family. She arrives to a shocking, harrowing new life, sold to a brothel as a sex slave, burdened with fabricated huge debts that she can never ever repay. In spite of the violence and abuse she suffers every day, Lakshmi manages to form life-saving bonds with her fellow slaves… and together, they dare dream of another life.
Patricia McCormick, who was a 2006 National Book Award finalist for Young People’s Literature for Sold, is certainly no stranger to difficult issues young people face, having tackled self-mutilation in Cut and drug addiction in My Brother’s Keeper. She writes with a haunting immediacy – in this case, using the sparest prose poetry – that underscores Lakshmi’s desperate situation, as if the brevity of the sparsely powerful chapters is all that the young girl can reveal in between trying to stay alive. The result is both horrific and hopeful, terrifying and triumphant .. and surely not to be missed.
Readers: Young Adult