Book Review: Sold by Patricia McCormick

 Those of you who regularly read this blog know that I focus a lot of my attention on what is going on in this world, with a particular focus on atrocities committed towards women and children, mainly trafficking, mass murder and genocide, rape and the recruitment of children to become soldiers. I real a lot of writing concentrated on these topics, both fiction and non-fiction and try to review the ones that touch me the most on here. For every story told, there are millions of others to be heard, and, in my opinion, these stories cannot be heard enough.

A few years ago I reviewed a book called The Blue Notebook by James A. Levine on here, the story of a young Indian girl, sold by her family into child prostitution. Today I picked up another book in the same genre, Sold by Patricia McCormick.This is a story of a young Nepali girl called Lakshmi, who, after her stepfather has gambled away all of the money her family has earned with their meager rice paddies, is sold into sexual slavery in India. During her time in the brothel she learns what the meaning of evil is, but also that where evil prevails, good can also be found. The novel starts with Lakshmi describing her less than idyllic life in Nepal with tenderness, and then descends into the pits of what becomes her own personal hell as a child prostitute. At times beautiful, but mainly heartbreaking, all you want to do is jump into the book, wrap Lakshmi in her shall and carry her away with you into a world where no one else can harm her.

Written in a simple, but very lyrical prose, that often comes across as poetry, McCormick creates a story told from the eyes of a young, innocent girl, forced into the heart of of disgusting trade that continues to happen all over the world. This may be fiction, but it comes from reality, and McCormick did a lot of her research on the topic by traveling to India and Nepal, interviewing the victims, traffickers and people who have created shelters for the victims. I don't know how to answer the eternal questions of how people can sell their own children into slavery, how grown men can pay for sex with mere children and not even question their actions, and how grown women can enforce this in the brothels. But I do know that there ARE ways to help stop this, and hopefully, one day, this can all be somehow outlawed. Yes, still the idealist at heart, but without hope I don't know how I could live.

While I am on the subject of women, children, India and shelters, I will be helping my friend Theresa VanderMeer who I interviewed a while ago on here this weekend at the NYC Green Festival at Javits Center North.WORK+SHELTER will have a stand at the festival so come visit if you are around.

Some more information on the novel, and further links on the topic:
Patricia McCormick official website
Vital Voices
Amnesty International

The Blue Notebook - James A. Levine

This is one of those books that you know will tug at your heartstrings before you have even read the first page.
James A. Levine recites the story of a young girl in India, Batuk, who is sold into sexual slavery by her parents at an early age, and who tells her story through her young eyes and the stories she writes into her notebook. Despite the many euphemisms Batuk uses to lessen the horror of her daily existence, you read right through the lines, and just want to run off to India and save her and any other child who is living her life. Heartbreaking and heartwarming at the same time.
Not for the faint of heart and those who don't give a shit about anyone around them (because you may be shocked into actually thinking outside of your own selfish being) - but it should be a must-read for everyone.

Child prostitution is a very important issue to me, and making it less of a taboo means that one day there may be enough of us around to actually wipe it out for good. Or enough of us to stamp out the fuckers who think having sex with children is normal.

Some links for those interested in actually doing something to help:
United Nations - Children's Rights
Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women
Plan USA Sponsor a Child