Author: Patricia McCormick
Publication Date: September 2006
Genre/Format: Realistic Fiction (Multicultural)/Novel in Vignettes
Summary: Lakshmi is a 13 year old who lives in a hut with her mother, stepfather and young brother. The poverty that they live in is worse than I have ever imagine and it doesn't help that her stepfather has a fondness for gambling and disappearing. But they are surviving. Until the monsoons destroy their crops and they become desperate. Her stepfather's solution? Sell her to a stranger from the city to work as a maid. It is something that excites Lakshmi because she will be able to experience the glamour of the city AND help her family; however, when she arrives at "Happiness House" her dreams are shattered. Happiness House is a brothel and she has been sold into prostitution.
What I Think: A beautifully written book about a truly heinous situation.
When I began this book, I really didn't know what it was about since I hadn't read anything about it except that it was loved. Starting out, I thought it was a historical fiction novel about the past where families had to sell their daughters to help pay debts; however, as I read more and things such as TV, cars and Coke were introduced, I began to realize that this wasn't historical fiction at all- it was contemporary. This was something that is happening on our planet right now. I am not ignorant and know that human trafficking exists, but I just had never realized to the extent. Maybe it is that we don't want to think about it, because we feel helpless. That is how I feel now. Helpless. And thankful.
What Jen Thinks: I agree, I am completely thankful for my childhood and my life right now after reading about situations for girls/women who aren't as fortunate as I am. This book really helped me visualize and connect with life in that part of the world. I have read this with one of my students and she could not believe what was happening. It is sad how many people take education for granted. This character was yearning to learn.
This book is a tremendously fast read because it is told in vivid but short snapshots but it is a well-written book. I recommend this to students who are looking for an intense teen issue focused book. I make sure to ask them what they think as they read and to reiterate to them that this is happening in the world today...it's fiction, but based on events that really do occur. Like Kellee, I don't want them to think it's not plausible because it really is. This is a book that stays with you.
Read Together: 6 - 10
Read Alone: 7 - 12
Read With: Bound by Donna Jo Napoli, The Breadwinner by Deborah Ellis, Homeless Bird by Gloria Whelan, Ties that Bind, Ties that Break by Lensey Nimioka, La Linea by Ann Jaramillo, Shabanu by Suzanne Fisher Staples, So Long a Letter by Mariama Ba
Snatch of Text: "If you look hard enough, chaos turns into order the way letters turn into words." (From "On the Bus")
"I would ask him if the night air in the city smells like the night air on the mountain, like rain clouds and jasmine and possibility." (From "Meeting the David Beckham Boy")
"I have been beaten here, locked away, violated a hundred times and a hundred times more. I have been starved and cheated, tricked and disgraced. How odd it is that I am undone by the simple kindness of a small boy with a yellow pencil." (From "A Gift")
"My will? This is something I lost long ago, I want to tell him." (From "A Strange Customer")
(I read Sold on my Kindle, so the page numbers were not available. -Kellee)
Reading Strategies to Practice: Making connections, Comparing/Contrasting, Asking questions
Writing Strategies to Practice: Vignettes, Narrative, First Person POV, Descriptive
Writing Prompts: In "Before Gita Left" Lakshmi writes about how her and her best friend spend their time. Write about your best friend and your favorite things to do with him/her.; In "Beyond the Himalayas" Lakshmi wonders what is on the other side of the Himalayas. Write about a place where you wish you could visit.
Topics Covered: Integration- Social Studies, Poverty, Adversity, Perseverance, Human Trafficking, Prostitution
Translated to Spanish: Yes
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