Sold by Patricia McCormick
Reading level: Ages 18 and up
Paperback: 263 pages
Publisher: Hyperion Book CH (April 1, 2008)
By Yari Nieves-Rivera, Courier Entertainment Editor
In the book, Sold, by Patricia McCormick, Lakshmi is a Tibetan girl who dreams of a big city and has only recently become a woman in her culture. Her father died when she was young, so her mother had to remarry in order to take care of her daughter. Since then, she had a son, Lakshmi’s little brother, which makes ends harder to meet for them. At the age of thirteen, Lakshmi is expected to get married to a boy her age and she’s supposed to leave home, but when a terrible drought comes that destroys the family’s crops and her step-father spends away their money on gambling, her dowry has to be sold to pay rent and keep her and her little brother healthy.
Then, her step-father meets a woman who is offering to take Lakshmi to the Big City, only a myth to Lakshmi. She tells Lakshmi to call her ‘Auntie’. Then, her step-father, for some reason, gets some money from the woman, more than Lakshmi had ever seen. Lakshmi goes with her in order to go to the city, and the woman promises to send back money to her family while she works in the city.
Soon enough, she finds that the promises have only been lies, that she has been taken to India, and that her step-father sold her to prostitution.
Sold is told through a series of poems in Lakshmi’s point of view. It tells her struggles, her defeat, and the changes that hit her during her time in the Indian brothel. Many times, its graphic and horrifying, which is just what McCormick was trying to do through the story.
Although Lakshmi is fiction, her story is not different from the lives of many Tibetan girls. Lakshmi represents the lives of many of these women, who have lived through a nightmare that they managed to wake up from and escape.
This novel raises awareness to a major crisis in Tibet and India. Prostitution of underage girls is more common than it should be in these countries, which children everywhere suffering through these situations and growing up in brothels, while their mothers work for the brothel owner. This children are shunned, and so is the rest of their family, by society. They are not helped in any way, because they are seen as ‘disgraced’, and would therefore take honor away from their families. When the women do manage to escape on their own, their own families turn them away and they are forced once more into the dark spiral.
Sold by Patricia McCormick is a terrifying tale of a girl, who has to grow up too soon, for the wrong reasons. I recommend this novel to anyone who wants to raise awareness of the situation, and wants to learn more about it.