A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Patricia McCormick's award-winning novel in verse, Sold, is the story of Lakshmi, a 13-year-old girl from a poor village in rural Nepal, who is sold into sex work by her stepfather. Lakshmi, thinking she is going to a job as a housemaid, is innocent of what lies ahead until she arrives at Happiness House, a brothel in India. Held captive until she can pay off the ever-increasing debt owed by her family, she risks everything for a chance to escape. The storyline is intense and disturbing but never sensationalized. Sold (originally published in 2006) was a National Book Award finalist, a Quill Award winner, and an American Library Association Top Ten Best Book for Young Adults. It was adapted for a film starring Gillian Anderson and David Arquette, released in the United States in 2016.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
SOLD is the story of 13-year-old Lakshmi, who lives in a tiny village in Nepal with her mother, baby brother, and stepfather. Lakshmi's family is poor, owing in part to her stepfather's gambling habit. But she goes to school, has a beloved pet goat, and imagines what her life will be like when she marries a local boy named Krishna. It's an innocent life, so innocent she can’t imagine what awaits her as she travels with her new "Auntie" and then "Uncle Husband" to a job in Calcutta. Instead of working as a maid and sending money home to her family, she finds herself trapped in a brothel with seemingly no way of escape.
Is it any good?
Chilling and heartbreaking, this award-winning novel's spare first-person account of a teen Nepali girl sold into sex work is unforgettable. As it's written in free-verse vignettes (some only a few paragraphs) rather than chapters, readers are able to take an emotional breath between scenes they find disturbing. The book's many awards are well earned and an accurate reflection of this remarkable work.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the violence in Sold. Does the fact that the book is written in free verse and features short scenes make it easier to absorb the disturbing content?
If you haven't seen the film adaptation of Sold, do you think Lakshmi’s story would be as powerful on film as it was when you read the novel and used your imagination to fill in things not described? If you have seen the film, how does it compare to the novel? Which do you like better?
The U.S. State Department's estimate (included in the author's note) is that 500,000 children are trafficked to the sex trade each year. Why do you think countries allow this to happen? What should be done to stop it?
- Author: Patricia McCormick
- Genre: Contemporary Fiction
- Topics: Friendship, Great Girl Role Models
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
- Publication date: January 1, 2006
- Number of pages: 272
- Available on: Paperback, Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Award: ALA Best and Notable Books
- Last updated: March 11, 2021
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