Sold by Patricia McCormick.
The exquisite cover promises great things inside and does not lie. McCormick has created a gut-wrenching, poetic, amazing verse novel of a young girl sold into sexual slavery. Lakshmi is from a small village in Nepal where she has a loving mother, tiny baby brother and absent stepfather who gambles away any money they manage to scrape together. One season after an awful drought, the monsoon returns with too much rain destroying their rice plantings for the next year. Lakshmi is told that she is being sent to be a maid for a wealthy city family, so she is willing to leave to give her family more money, her brother a better life, and her mother a new tin roof. But she is not headed for a family, rather an brothel in India. This is the story of how a young girl uses her intelligence and courage to survive the unthinkable.
The power of the poems in this volume hits like a hammer right in the chest. Amazingly many of them are complete enough to stand as single poems, but placed together in order they form a chain of poetry that is solid and strong. They are a testament to what is happening to thousands of girls each year.
I admit freely that I tend to cry at the end of books. Sometimes it is the loss of these characters I have been living with other times it is the anguish of the story itself. Rarely do I weep in the middle of a book, but I did when reading this. The pain of the brothel and her bravery in overcoming the situation were so palpable and real that they seared right through me. The eyes on the cover will stay with me for a long time, but the poetry is what is tattooed in my heart. To say such evil things with such beauty and strength. To not shy away from the truth of what happens took courage for the author as well.
All I have is applause for this novel. It is a masterpiece of brevity and power. This is one of my top books of the year. I consider it a must read.