Thursday, April 10, 2008

Sold, by Patricia McCormick

Sold, by Patricia McCormick is one of the most brutally real books I've ever read. It's the story of a poor girl from Nepal who is sold into prostitution in Calcutta, India, and yes, it's young adult literature.

I consider this book to be the teenagers version of A Thousand Splendid Suns, by Khaled Hosseini, with one notable twist, the girl is sold into unwilling prostitution, and this is based on what actually happens.

The story broke my heart, it troubled me in many ways, and actually drove me to take action as much as a white middle class man living in New Mexico can, by donating to the cause of saving these girls from their doom.

If you tried to read this book with an elementary class, you'd probably lose your job, and I would seriously question using it with any class younger than maybe 10th or even 11th grade. But, once the students are that age, and have engaged in discussions about the hatred and evil that is alive in the world, this book could be a life altering experience for them.

The story itself focuses on Lakshmi, a 13-year-old girl living in the high mountains of Nepal. She is the daughter of a step-father who gambles and eventually loses everything, both by being a lazy jerk, and by their home and crops being washed away in the monsoon. Lakshmi is sold into what the family believes is maid service in India, but when she arrives, she is thrown head first into a horrible brothel.

The story is told through the experience of Lakshmi, you feel her confusion, rage, how scared she is, and how horrible the adults around her truly are. I was disgusted, I was shocked, I was saddened, and finally I was angered by what I read, angered not by the book itself, but by the fact that there are human beings capable of such horrible things.

If you can read this book, as an adult, I would recommend it for so many reasons. It's truly a book that I will never forget, and if you approach it correctly, with a heavy sense of what the topic is about and how serious it is, you will teach your students a lesson in the evils of the human spirit that they will never forget. This book will sit on my shelf forever as a reminder of this.