Author: Patricia McCormick
Series: Stand alone
Released: September 6, 2006
First Line: One more rainy season and our roof will be gone, says Ama.
From Goodreads: "Lakshmi is a thirteen-year-old girl who lives with her family in a small hut on a mountain in Nepal. Though she is desperately poor, her life is full of simple pleasures, like playing hopscotch with her best friend from school, and having her mother brush her hair by the light of an oil lamp. But when the harsh Himalayan monsoons wash away all that remains of the family’s crops, Lakshmi’s stepfather says she must leave home and take a job to support her family.
He introduces her to a glamorous stranger who tells her she will find her a job as a maid in the city. Glad to be able to help, Lakshmi journeys to India and arrives at “Happiness House” full of hope. But she soon learns the unthinkable truth: she has been sold into prostitution.
An old woman named Mumtaz rules the brothel with cruelty and cunning. She tells Lakshmi that she is trapped there until she can pay off her family’s debt—then cheats Lakshmi of her meager earnings so that she can never leave.
Lakshmi’s life becomes a nightmare from which she cannot escape. Still, she lives by her mother’s words— Simply to endure is to triumph—and gradually, she forms friendships with the other girls that enable her to survive in this terrifying new world. Then the day comes when she must make a decision—will she risk everything for a chance to reclaim her life?
Written in spare and evocative vignettes, this powerful novel renders a world that is as unimaginable as it is real, and a girl who not only survives but triumphs."
"Why must women suffer so?"
"This has always been our fate. Simply to endure is to triumph."
Oh my holy goodness gracious! I did not expect to like this book as much as I did! Once I turned the last page I immediately wanted to go back to the beginning and read it again. This is one of my new favorite books, and one of the best books I have ever read!
I very rarely read realistic fiction, but boy am I glad I read this one! Patricia McCormick tells Lakshmi's story masterfully and beautifully. WRITERS: You NEED to read this book! This is an outstanding example of what good writing looks like! And when I say good writing I don't mean just prose, but the way she tells the story and the techniques she uses to allow the reader to get to know the characters. She makes both the characters and the setting come alive and you wholeheartedly believe that you are there with Lakshmi both in her mountain village and trapped in the brothel.
I fell in love with Laksmi--how could I not? She is an innocent, naive, and sweet 13 year-old who wants to help earn money so her family can have a new tin roof. She names the cucumbers in her garden and calls them her children. She makes a necklace of flowers for her goat, Tali. She thinks her mother with her stooped back is more beautiful than a goddess because she carries the burdens of her family.
This book was heartbreaking to read but impossible to put down. Lakshmi's story is tragic but unfortunately all too true for countless young girls who are trafficked into the sex trade every year. Lakshmi is sold into prostitution by her stepfather, who's gambling problem has landed them in debt. Oh gosh, that man made me so furious, I hated him! This book really shows you how powerless women are in some societies, and how terribly they are treated.
For example, Lakshmi's mother tells her, "Never look a man in the eye...Once you are married, you must eat your meal only after your husband has had his fill. Then you may have what remains...If your husband asks you to wash his feet, you must do as he says, then put a bit of the water in your mouth." Lakshmi asks her mother, "Why must women suffer so?" She answers, "This has always been our fate. Simply to endure is to triumph."
The injustices towards women in this book made me so angry. Lakshmi is treated like property and forced to have sex with men in the brothel to earn the owner money. Why are women so hated in the world? Why are they treated so terribly? After reading a book like this you'd think you'd really be hating on the male gender. But Patricia McCormick subtly reminds us that not all men are bad by having a couple of male characters whom befriend Lakshmi. There is the "Tea Boy" who leaves her free tea, and the "David Beckham Boy" who teaches her how to read and speak some English. These sweet, kind boys give Lakshmi hope--and give the reader a reminder that not all men are like the awful customers of the brothel.
To Read Or Not To Read?
This book is a quick but powerful read. Everyone should read this book! Since it is about sex trafficking it is pretty intense, so I would only recommend it for mature readers (16+). But trust me, you will not be disappointed!
Kept me interested: 5/5