April 6, 2009
By Donnie Allison BRONZE, Canfield, Ohio
Donnie Allison BRONZE, Canfield, Ohio
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Sold creates an everlasting and powerful impression upon completion of the reading, and it is not surprising that the book was a National Book Award Finalist. The setting takes place far away from America, but it alerts the entire world of the severity of childhood prostitution. Patricia McCormick, author of the best-seller, takes a very forward approach that helps her establish an effective tone and to keep the interest of the reader at high levels.

McCormick’s vivid descriptions of the unprosperous region of Tibet captivates readers by making them want to continue reading to explore the reasons responsible for the impoverished conditions of the people living there. The plot remains compelling from the first chapter all the way through to the suspenseful outcome of the story. At first, McCormick seems to place greater emphasis on the significant people of the story rather than implementing the development of the exciting rising action. The reader learns of the thirteen-year old Lakshmi as the protagonist, Ama as her hard-working, dedicated mother, and Gita as the close neighbor, who is relocated to work as a maid in the city. Despite not having many possessions of great monetary value and living in an unstable house, one tends to feel at ease for the family until the step-father is introduced. McCormick continues to reemphasize the sloth-like parent, who is addicted to going up the mountain to gamble away their family earnings by playing poker. Feeling angered, the audience begins to heat up when they witness Ama responding to a large card defeat by explaining to Lakshmi how they should be thankful to even have a replacement father figure. To make things worse, the step-father makes the decision to sell Lakshmi away “for the benefit of the family,” but a strange, uneasy feeling arises when the black-toothed lady buys the girl. This feeling is further strengthened by a new male figure obtaining Lakshmi and taking advantage of the clueless child. He does so by giving her sweets and “protection from the bad guys” to cross the border, and he then barters Lakshmi into prostitution. Poor Lakshmi discovers the new kind of labor she must become accustomed to in order to survive. Mumtaz, the owner, is greedy and cruel with her illegal Happiness House. The audience learns how she pays off a policeman to maintain her business, intoxicates girls when they are uncooperative, and offers to cut off a limb of a free baby to sell it for a little more money. Conditions may have been unbearable had the author not created the other girls in the house. Readers listen attentively to the scenarios of each prostitute, and they all sympathize with the girls for the pain these young ladies endured. The group begins suffering with various illnesses, and they would lose their jobs and be thrown out in a foreign country when they would become too unattractive. The story ends with an exciting finish as many of the familiar faces become nonexistent, and it comes down to an American man determining the outcome of Lakshmi and the sex business.

The novel is gloomy, and the characters have little reason to be happy at all, and when they are happy, something immoral occurs to neutralize anything positive. Despite all the negativity, Lakshmi never allows anyone to take her hope of gaining freedom away, even when the spy informs her that her family is not receiving any of the money she is earning. The “never give up” theme is consistent, and it also shares the message of stopping this horrible epidemic. Patricia McCormick truly puts together a masterpiece and a very interesting story for the common audience to enjoy by recognizing the seriousness of childhood sex slavery.

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