Friday, June 1, 2012

Book # 22 - Sold

BOOK #22: Sold by Patricia McCormick
5/5 stars

This novel was insane, in an amazing way. I began reading it on May 16th, and finished it on May 16th. That was not a typo. I'm not bragging about having finished the book in one day; it is a short Young Adult book written in a series of vignettes, some less than a page long. However, even if this novel was much longer I feel that I probably would have read it just as quickly because of the content.

One might think that by reading YA books I'm "cheating" because they're shorter, or that I'm not challenging myself intellectually enough. This couldn't be more wrong. More and more adults are reading YA literature these days. The Harry Potter series are considered "children's" books. The ever popular Hunger Games trilogy is YA literature. I have even recently joined a book club at my town library for adults who enjoy reading Young Adult books. Authors of these books take risks, and tackle controversial subject matters in new, interesting ways. This novel is an example of that.

For more about YA books and authors check out a NY Times article by McCormick herself about YA Lit:

Sold by Patricia McCormick is a YA novel about a 13-year-old girl from Nepal named Lakshmi. She has lived a happy life for her first few years, aside from money issues within her family, mostly stemming from his stepfather's gambling addiction. She expects to marry a young man from her village whom she and her parents like. However, as money becomes tighter, Lakshmi is offered a job in the city, which she believes to be as a cleaning woman. She is excited about sending money home for her family, and takes a long journey to "The Happiness House", which she comes to find out is actually a brothel. The owner of the brothel will not let Lakshmi leave, and forces her to become a prostitute to work off her family's "debt."

This novel was so interesting and terrifying because it stems from truth. McCormick did lots of research in the Middle East, speaking with women who had escaped the sex trade, those who were still a part of it, and even a few who had bought or sold women without remorse. The truth that resides in her novel is as shocking as it is awakening.

The novel is absolutely a sad one, but don't let that stop you from reading it. I grew to care deeply for Lakshmi and wanted to see her make it through her ordeals. If the book was simply depressing, I would not recommend it. However, Lakshmi describes the differences between her hometown and this new, scary place, the people she encounters, and the other women who work there and how they act. The stories of these women haunted me, and provoked strong emotions as only good writing can. This was a beautiful story, and I almost forgot that it was a Young Adult book, because the writing was not at an obnoxiously basic level. It was well-crafted, yet easy to understand. Overall, I was quite impressed with the novel and am excited to get my hands on more YA novels, especially anything written by Patricia McCormick.

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