reviewed by Abigail Fellin
“This affliction—hope—is so cruel and stubborn. I believe it will kill me.”
Sold by Patricia McCormick follows the story of young Lakshmi, a thirteen-year-old girl from Nepal. Growing up in poverty with an alcoholic stepfather who gambles away all the family’s belongings, her only dream is to live in a house with a tin roof. So, when her step-father says she must go to the city and work as a maid to make money, she is excited at the idea of making her Ama (mother) proud.
Unfortunately, she is not going to the city to be a maid and it isn’t until she is trapped in the Happiness House that she realizes she was sold to a brothel.
“…a zipper baring its teeth… the wincing of the mattress... but if you are lucky, or if you work hard at it, you hear nothing.”
Sold is not an easy book to read. While the chapter are all short and the novel is written in the format of poetry with white space to help readers digest information, the content of the book is heart wrenching. With rape scenes, beatings, and horrible realities thousands of young girls face, this book is not meant for all audiences and is better suited for mature readers.
How Laksmi stays alive and keeps hope while attempting to pay off her debt to Mamtaz is inspiring. McCormick includes an afterword talking about the reality of the book for some women who live in a society where girls are equivalent to goats, “good as long as she gives you milk and butter. But not worth crying over when it’s time to make a stew.”
Inspiring, poetic, and devastating, Sold is the type of book that stays with you long after you put it down, leaving you to wonder what you would be willing to go through for your freedom.