Monday, March 10, 2008
sold, by patricia mccormick - part one: the book review

In the days after the hugging man leaves, I consider myself in the mirror. My plain self, not the self wearing lipstick and eyeliner and a flimsy dress.

Sometimes I see a girl who is growing into womanhood. Other days I see a girl growing old before her time.

It doesn't matter, of course. Because no one will ever want me now.

Lakshmi is thirteen-years-old. She lives a simple and, albeit impoverished, relatively happy existence with with her Ama, infant sibling and gambling-addicted stepfather in a Nepalese village buried deep in the Himalayan mountains. She is a loving and obedient daughter and the best student in her class, but when a monsoon comes, devastating her family's home and the crops they rely on for sustenance, her simple life takes a catastrophic turn. In order to compensate for the family's crippling loss, Lakshmi's stepfather - who likens little girls to goats, "Good as long as she gives you milk and butter..but not worth crying over when it's time to make stew" - decides to sell Lakshmi away to a Calcutta brothel for the paltry sum of four hundred dollars.

Early in the novel, Lakshmi's Ama gives her this warning: "it is a woman's fate to suffer (and) simply to endure is to triumph." Told through a series of spare, free-verse vignettes, Lakshim's story is devastating, and yet somehow she endures, which - considering the myriad horrors she experiences - is most definitely a triumph.

Before writing Sold, Patricia McCormick traveled to Nepal and India, interviewing both the families who sell their children (some intentionally, some because they were tricked by unscrupulous traffickers) and the children who have been sold into the trade. Thanks to her first-hand interviews and observations, Sold - although fiction - feels intensely real. Lakshmi's story could be that of any one of the 400,000 children currently in bondage, working off their bloated debts in Indian brothels, and it was that realism - mixed with a beautifully simplistic style of storytelling - that led me to devour this novel in one sitting, despite the fact that every single page found a new way to break my heart.

Patricia McCormick
2006, 272 pages

(Expect the second part of this post: "Sold: Where the Review Got Away from Me" sometime tomorrow. For tonight, I am tired. A hex on Daylight Savings Time!)

Labels: , , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home