Monday, November 10, 2008
Sold (disturbing, haunting... unforgettable)
Sold by Patricia McCormick is a novel told in free verse about the horrors of the international sex trade. It's also on the Abraham Lincoln Illinois High School Book Award list and the Read for a Lifetime list for this year. It is told from the point of view of Lakshmi, a thirteen year old Nepali girl from the mountains of the Himalayas, who is sold by her stepfather to pay off his gambling debts. She thinks she is going to the "big city"to work as a maid for a wealthy family in order to send money home to support her baby brother and to buy a tin roof for her family's mud hut. In reality, she has been sold to one of several middlemen, who sells her to another middleman, who smuggles her across the border into India and sells her to a brothel in the city of Calcutta. Once she arrives in the brothel, she is locked into a small, dirty room, is drugged into compliance, and is forced to have sex with customer after customer, until she loses the will to struggle. Once she stops resisting, she is allowed to live in the brothel among the other prostitutes, with whom she forges hesitant friendships. She sees much horror (girls contracting AIDS and being thrown out into the streets, girls being brutally punished for resisting, and the futility of trying to pay off their "debts" to the brothel's madame). She also experiences small acts of kindness and, ultimately, is one of the lucky ones (relatively speaking). This book is NOT easy to read (it's a fast read, but its subject matter makes it not an easy one). I read it before bed each night, which may not have been the smartest thing to do, but I feel that it is so important that I bought a copy for myself so that I can loan it to friends and family members. Because of its importance, its free verse style, and its haunting beauty, I'm giving Sold 4 out of 4 Bananas.