Author: Patricia McCormick
Genre: Realistic Contemporary
Publication Date: April 1st, 2008
My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
TRIGGER WARNING! This book contains realistic graphic sexual assault, violence and child abuse.
“Simply to endure is to triumph.”
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. – Excerpt from Goodreads.
This book was ROUGH. I read it in one sitting but I’m not sure if I should have or not because it was a lot to take in. Amazing book though.
There are obviously some pretty heavy triggers in this book: child sex-trafficking, and graphic sexual and physical abuse (involving children and women).
I knew going into this one that it wasn’t going to be a pleasant read. It almost feels wrong to say that I liked the book. It was brutal, it was uncomfortable and worst of all it was something that is happening right now around the world. I was familiar with the topic as I’ve read a lot of non-fiction books on the topic and studied it a little in University. The topic never gets easier though.
The book is about a 13 year old girl who gets sold into the sex trade by her step-father. She intially thinks she is going to Nepal for a better life,to becomes a ladies maid. That she will be able to provide for her family and most importantly, her mother. This lie makes the truth all the more devastating. I cried with this little girl more times than I can count.
The book was beautifully and poetically written. The author had a way of drawing you in and making you feel like you are there with that child. Witnessing the horrors first hand.
I recommend this with caution, as the subject matter is intense. This is a YA book and I think it would be fine for a teenager to read, since it will give them a sense of what is going on around the world to so many children. If you are worried about the subject matter, you may want to read it with your teen (or students) so that you can have an open discussion about it and address anything they may struggle with. This is a five star for me but I wouldn’t read it again because I don’t think I could bare to go on this journey with the little girl in this story again.