Reviews for Sold

Booklist Reviews 2006 September #2
Lakshmi, 13, knows nothing about the world beyond her village shack in the Himalayas of Nepal, and when her family loses the little it has in a monsoon, she grabs a chance to work as a maid in the city so she can send money back home. What she doesn't know is that her stepfather has sold her into prostitution. She ends up in a brothel far across the border in the slums of Calcutta, locked up, beaten, starved, drugged, raped, "torn and bleeding," until she submits. In beautiful clear prose and free verse that remains true to the child's viewpoint, first-person, present-tense vignettes fill in Lakshmi's story. The brutality and cruelty are ever present ("I have been beaten here, / locked away, / violated a hundred times / and a hundred times more"), but not sensationalized. An unexpected act of kindness is heartbreaking ("I do not know a word / big enough to hold my sadness"). One haunting chapter brings home the truth of "Two Worlds": the workers love watching The Bold and the Beautifulon TV though in the real world, the world they know, a desperate prostitute may be approached to sell her own child. An unforgettable account of sexual slavery as it exists now. ((Reviewed September 15, 2006)) Copyright 2006 Booklist Reviews

Horn Book Guide Reviews 2007 Spring
McCormick's searing novel, told in a series of poetic vignettes, gives voice to Lakshmi, a thirteen-year-old girl from Nepal who is forced into prostitution in India. Lakshmi's education at the hands of Happiness House's cruel madam is brutal. Readers will admire Lakshmi's bravery and be relieved when she risks trusting the American man who promises to take her to a clean, safe place. Copyright 2007 Horn Book Guide Reviews.

Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2006 #5
McCormick's searing novel, told in a series of poetic vignettes, gives voice to a child forced into prostitution in India. Lakshmi, a thirteen-year-old girl from a poor mountain village in Nepal, thinks she is being hired as a maid when her stepfather "trades" her to a woman for eight hundred rupees. Thus begins a journey to the city, during which Lakshmi's naivetŽ becomes heartbreakingly apparent. At one point her new "auntie" seems to sell her to a man who says she must call him her husband. As the payment changes hands, she thinks, "I do not know what they have agreed to. / But I do know this: / he gives her nearly enough money to buy a water buffalo." But Uncle Husband turns out to be just a middleman shepherding Lakshmi to Happiness House, where the colorful dresses, jewelry, and makeup worn by the girls there lead her to wonder if "Happiness House is where the movie stars live." Of course she soon learns the folly of this first impression. Lakshmi's education into prostitution at the hands of Happiness House's cruel madam, Mumtaz, is brutal. Readers will admire Lakshmi's bravery and be enormously relieved when she risks trusting the American man with "the pink skin of a pig" who promises to take her to a "clean," safe place. Copyright 2006 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews 2006 September #1
In her village in Nepal, Lakshmi's life is more than difficult and requires her to endure hunger, harsh weather and poverty. When she is sold to an itinerant "Auntie," she thinks she'll be working as a maid in the city. She's determined to excel, even though she can't imagine the place. She arrives in a brothel, working in guaranteed slavery until she is broken or dies, astonished at the charges beyond what she could possibly earn for everything she touches. The harshness of her life in this new country of India, feeling torn from all that is familiar, comes close to crushing her, yet she endures. The tiny moments of peace, learning the words in books, the friendships and respect that develop provide a relief for readers even as admiration for Lakshmi's strength and capacity for sorrow grows. Written as a prose poem, Sold focuses on the essential question of whether it is possible to trust when all that one has trusted has been proven untrustworthy. McCormick provides readers who live in safety and under protection of the law with a vivid window into a harsh and cruel world-one most would prefer to pretend doesn't exist. (Fiction. YA) Copyright Kirkus 2006 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly Reviews 2006 August #4

This hard-hitting novel told in spare free verse poems exposes the plight of a 13-year-old Nepali girl sold into sexual slavery. Through Lakshmi's innocent first-person narrative, McCormick (Cut ) reveals her gradual awakening to the harshness of the world around her. Even in their poverty-stricken rural home, Lakshmi finds pleasure in the beauty of the Himalayan mountains, the sight of Krishna, her betrothed, and the cucumbers she lovingly tends, then sells at market. After a monsoon wipes out their crops, her profligate stepfather sells Lakshmi to an "auntie" bound for the city. During her journey, the girl acquires a visual and verbal vocabulary of things she has never seen before: electric lights, a TV. Soon a hard-won sense of irony invades her narrative, too. Early on, a poem entitled "Everything I Need to Know" marks her step into womanhood (after her first menstrual cycle); later, "Everything I Need to Know Now" lists her rules as an initiated prostitute. In her village, Lakshmi had rebelliously purchased her first Coca-Cola for her mother, after her stepfather sold her; later, in Calcutta, she overhears two johns talking and realizes, "the price of a bottle of Coca-Cola at Bajai Sita's store./ That is what he paid for [a turn with] me." The author beautifully balances the harshness of brothel life with the poignant relationships among its residents; especially well-drawn characters include the son of one of the prostitutes, who teaches Lakshmi to read and speak some English and Hindi, and clever Monica, who earns her freedom but gets sent back by her shamed family. Readers will admire Lakshmi's grit and intelligence, and be grateful for a ray of hope for this memorable heroine at book's end. Ages 12-up. (Sept.)

[Page 55]. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

School Library Journal Review 2006 September

Gr 9 Up As this heartbreaking story opens, 13-year-old Lakshmi lives an ordinary life in Nepal, going to school and thinking of the boy she is to marry. Then her gambling-addicted stepfather sells her into prostitution in India. Refusing to “be with men,” she is beaten and starved until she gives in. Written in free verse, the girl’s first-person narration is horrifying and difficult to read. “In between, men come./They crush my bones with their weight./They split me open./Then they disappear.” “I hurt./I am torn and bleeding where the men have been.” The spare, unadorned text matches the barrenness of Lakshmi’s new life. She is told that if she works off her family’s debt, she can leave, but she soon discovers that this is virtually impossible. When a boy who runs errands for the girls and their clients begins to teach her to read, she feels a bit more alive, remembering what it feels like to be the “number one girl in class again.” When an American comes to the brothel to rescue girls, Lakshmi finally gets a sense of hope. An author’s note confirms what readers fear: thousands of girls, like Lakshmi in this story, are sold into prostitution each year. Part of McCormick’s research for this novel involved interviewing women in Nepal and India, and her depth of detail makes the characters believable and their misery palpable. This important book was written in their honor.Alexa Sandmann, Kent State University, OH

[Page 211]. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

VOYA Reviews 2006 December
Thirteen-year-old Lakshmi is like most girls-she helps her mother, plays with her baby brother, and dreams of one day marrying and having babies of her own. When the monsoons destroy the crops on her family's Nepal farm, her stepfather arranges for her to leave their village to become a maid for a rich lady in the city. Instead Lakshmi is sold into a Calcutta brothel, facing unspeakable cruelty and horror, her memories of home all she has to help her endure McCormick tells Lakshmi's story in brief, poetic scenes, painting a haunting and thought-provoking picture of helplessness and hope. The writing is breathtaking in both its simplicity and its attention to detail. Scenes in the brothel are tenderly drawn, as Lakshmi and the other girls and women strive to find the smallest bit of joy in the bleakness of their lives. The juxtaposition of Lakshmi's life in her village, where electricity is a luxury, against the city with its cell phones and soap operas is jarring, an eerie reminder to the reader that nightmares like hers are happening right now in cities around the world. This novel is not to be missed, and readers will find themselves thinking about Lakshmi and the real girls whose lives inspired this stunning novel long after they turn the last page.-Vikki Terrile 5Q 4P J S Copyright 2006 Voya Reviews.