Unfortunately, I'm breaking with tradition a little bit here and blogging about a book I've already finished: Sold, by Patricia McCormick. I started it last night, and literally couldn't put it down until I'd finished it.
Sold is a young adult book, but one of those that is more deeply moving than most adult novels. In fact, I'm shocked that the book hasn't won any awards - in my opinion, it's on par with award-winners such as The Giver.
Sold is about a thirteen-year-old girl, Lakshmi, who lives a peasants life in the mountains of Nepal. Then her stepfather sells her to pay for his gambling addiction, leading her to believe she is being sent into the city to work as a maid. She is illegally transported out of India and sold to a brothel, but it is not until her first night there that she realizes what has happened to her.
The book illustrates the many reasons why so many brothels are able to get away with this: primarily, the manipulation of the little girls to make them fear trying to escape. If they try and are caught, their hair is cropped close to the scalp, marking them as a runaway - and keeping them from trying it again, for the shame of it. There are also the horrible punishments the brothel owners use to keep the girls in line - beating them with a leather strap, even stuffing hot chili peppers up inside their vaginas. But worst of all is the lies that they make these girls believe - that those who want to help them (i.e. the Americans, the border patrol) will actually hurt them.
Patricia McCormick's book is well researched and deeply moving. I highly recommend Sold to readers of any age.