Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Patricia McCormick's "Sold"

I've never been a big fan of poetry, but I'm a fan of young adult and middle grade novels. There's something fresh and clean and universal about the good ones. So when a friend recommended the book Sold by Patricia McCormick, I trundled off to the library and checked it out.

It wasn't until I got home and opened it that I realized it was in verse. No rhymes. No more rhythm than good lyrical prose. But it was still in verse. I sighed and decided to give it a try anyway. After three pages I was hooked.

Lakshmi lives in a tiny Nepalese village with her pet goat, her gentle mother, and a useless stepfather who gambles away what little money Lakshmi and her mother earn from the land. Lakshmi hopes to one day find a job in the city, where everything's paved in gold. As a house maid, she can earn enough money to buy her family a tin roof to keep out the monsoons. But her stepfather has other plans, and sells her instead into the powerlessness of prostitution.

Her story's told in short vignettes that connect in a darkly magical way, capturing the essence of Lakshmi's life before and after the unthinkable deal. I've made myself ration this book—like a really rich dessert—and I don't know how it can end happily, but I'm hoping.

The subject matter is grim, despite the simple beauty of its telling, but in our world of surplus and luxury, sometimes we need to remind ourselves of the difference between wishing we had the newest techno gadget to play with and wishing we had a handful of rice to eat. And despite how we complain about our jobs, most of us will never have to worry about being sold into slavery. Patricia McCormick, thank you for daring to bring this story into the world.

My rating: 5

Check out her website:
Buy it at Amazon

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