Sold is simple book with a powerful message. It is written in language that anyone can understand, with large font and lots of white space to make it more approachable for reluctant readers. But the story it tells is enough to make adults sit up and take notice, but it may upset younger children.
Thirteen year old Lakshmi is happily growing up in a small village in Nepal. Her family is very poor, mostly due to her stepfather’s gambling, and she dreams of going to the city to work like her friend. With a job in the city she can send money home to her family for the new roof and other things they desperately need. After the monsoon washes the crops away Lakshmi gets her chance. She is sold for 800 rupees.
Lakshmi is taken to the city, and then another city, and sold on to someone else who carries her across the border into India. From there she travels on through even more cities until she is brought to a house. Completely lost, but not without her wits, she finds that she is again sold, this time for 10,000 rupees.
Soon her work begins. She has been sold into prostitution. After the initial shock, Lakshmi starts to keep a tally of her ‘earnings’. When she believes she has nearly reached 10,000 rupees (and at 30 rupees a customer that is a long time) she approaches her employer to discuss future plans. But like indenture arrangements throughout time, suddenly the price has gone up and her service will be required until she is no longer useful, usually when a girl gets ‘the virus’.
This story is powerfully told. Like Parvana by Deborah Ellis, the power comes from the stark reality of the story. Although it is not a biography of one person, McCormick interviewed many girls who had escaped this life for her background and information as well as talking to their rescuers.
This is an excellent book, but not for those who expect all children should only read make believe.