Lakshmi's family is desperately poor, but village life in the mountains of Nepal has its share of pleasures. When the monsoons wreck their crops yet again, Lakshmi's stepfather says she must leave home and take a job to support her family. She arrives at 'Happiness House' full of hope, but soon learns the unthinkable truth - she has been sold into ...
Lakshmi's family is desperately poor, but village life in the mountains of Nepal has its share of pleasures. When the monsoons wreck their crops yet again, Lakshmi's stepfather says she must leave home and take a job to support her family. She arrives at 'Happiness House' full of hope, but soon learns the unthinkable truth - she has been sold into prostitution...This new world becomes a nightmare from which there is no escape. But, very gradually, Lakshmi makes friends with others in the house, and gathers her courage, until the day she has to face the hardest decision of all: will she risk everything to reclaim her life? ..Deceptively simple, eloquent, and shocking - this is a story you will never forget...'A phenomenal book, a punch in the gut...It drew me in from the first page, even though I wanted to turn away...McCormick has taken a difficult, distasteful subject and written something readable and compassionate without shying away from the truths of the matter. I only wish it was a historical document, not a portrait of a world we have all helped to create.' ..Deborah Ellis, author of the Parvana series
Publishers Weekly, 2006-08-28 This hard-hitting novel told in spare free verse poems exposes the plight of a 13-year-old Nepali girl sold into sexual slavery. Through Lakshmi's innocent first-person narrative, McCormick (Cut) reveals her gradual awakening to the harshness of the world around her. Even in their poverty-stricken rural home, Lakshmi finds pleasure in the beauty of the Himalayan mountains, the sight of Krishna, her betrothed, and the cucumbers she lovingly tends, then sells at market. After a monsoon wipes out their crops, her profligate stepfather sells Lakshmi to an "auntie" bound for the city. During her journey, the girl acquires a visual and verbal vocabulary of things she has never seen before: electric lights, a TV. Soon a hard-won sense of irony invades her narrative, too. Early on, a poem entitled "Everything I Need to Know" marks her step into womanhood (after her first menstrual cycle); later, "Everything I Need to Know Now" lists her rules as an initiated prostitute. In her village, Lakshmi had rebelliously purchased her first Coca-Cola for her mother, after her stepfather sold her; later, in Calcutta, she overhears two johns talking and realizes, "the price of a bottle of Coca-Cola at Bajai Sita's store./ That is what he paid for [a turn with] me." The author beautifully balances the harshness of brothel life with the poignant relationships among its residents; especially well-drawn characters include the son of one of the prostitutes, who teaches Lakshmi to read and speak some English and Hindi, and clever Monica, who earns her freedom but gets sent back by her shamed family. Readers will admire Lakshmi's grit and intelligence, and be grateful for a ray of hope for this memorable heroine at book's end. Ages 12-up. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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