Review Blog

Sep 28 2007

Sold by Patricia McCormick

cover image

Allen and Unwin

Age 14+ When Lakshmi is told that she is to go to the city and work as a maid, she is excited and grateful. She will now be able to send money back to her family in the foothills of Nepal, where, dogged by poverty, they can barely afford to put food in their children's mouths. As she travels further away from her mother, however, the trip becomes increasingly strange, until, finally in the city, she is locked in a room until she accepts that she is there to service the men who knock at the door.

In spare prose, set up in diary form, Lakshma details the life she leads with the other girls. Occasionally raided by police, she comes to realize that they are only there for the extra money from the brothel keeper. Sometimes some American men come in and speak to her of escape, but the stories she has been told about these men, keep her wary and afraid. Her attempts to save money are met with derision from one girl, who confides that she will never be allowed to leave, only being tossed out when she is no longer of any use.

The sweep of the novel is extraordinary, showing the reader just how these girls are sold into slavery, what their lives consist of and the collusion needed with authorities to keep them in the trade. Each of the girls' lives is told in much detail, so that the reader is in no doubt about what happens to them. Statistics at the end of the book, detail the extent of slavery around the world, and in particular the sexual slavery that goes on.

Read it and weep. Fran Knight

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