Monday, May 7, 2007

Sold, by Patricia McCormick

Sold, by Patricia McCormick, is on the 2007 Top Ten Best Books for Young Adults list; it also was an American Book Award nominee last year. It explores the challenges and injustices that many young people--especially women--face in third world countries.

The format of this novel is very familiar: it consists of short, poetic vignettes, much like Virginia Euwer Wolff's Make Lemonade. The language flows and the action builds to a dramatic climax--though the ending is somewhat abrupt. In any case, I found the novel extremely powerful and eye-opening.

Teachers 8th grade and up might consider using this book to explore issues related to gender inequalities, economic development, and taking a stand in the face of injustice. The content is challenging because McCormick depicts in unflinching terms--in the final third of the novel--various sexual topics and issues. All of this is handled very maturely, in full support of the main storyline. A note home to parents explaining the relationship between the novel and prevailing curricular goals and objectives would probably do the trick, though teachers might want to provide other options for reading, too. The novel could definitely be used to organize powerful discussions and writing projects, as well as useful connections to health or sex education curriculum.

As a parent, I would have no trouble giving this book to my 6th grader, though this is a book I would prefer he read in 7th or 8th grade. Pre-adolescents with the ability to handle more adult subject matter would find the narrative engaging and educational, though parents should expect to read or least discuss the text with their child, if read independently.


Anonymous said...


Undomestic said...

Some stories you wish didn’t need to be told….but you know they MUST. Sold, by Patricia McCormick is one of those stories. Fictional, but based on researched events, McCormick draws the reader into the life of Lakshimi…a 13 year old country girl from India. Because her stepfather wastes away their money gambling, and the monsoon has washed away their rice crop, Lakshimi is sent to the city to work for a family in order to help provide an income back home. However, after traveling several days and through many towns, Lakshimi arrives in a city of poverty, where she soon learns that her work is not house work, but child prostitution. She is starved, beaten, locked up and drugged before she finally must give in do her “work.” Through Lakshimi’s story, we also learn about some of the other girls forced into this brothel, only to endure nothing but disgrace and abuse when and if they ever return home.

McCormick has carefully constructed this tale with enough detail to help the reader understand the horrors of the sexual exploitation of young girls in India, but not so much detail that it’s inappropriate for teenagers. Her poetic prose paints a vivid picture of the landscape, the people and the emotions that converge throughout this story. This is a story that should not and will not be forgotten. Sold is a powerful book that will make readers want to cry with despair and scream with anger, touching them deep in their souls.

Amanda Gifford said...

I just finished this book myself. At first it was written so innocently, and the book ultimately (to me) was a struggle between innocence and adulthood. To be secretly looking at a cartoon book during the day, yet hiding that lone bit of childhood under the same bed she is forced to have sex on, was pretty powerful! People need to know stories like these but it is a tough line to draw at what age should this book be read? I think 8th grade.