By Patricia McCormick

Current & Digital Publisher: Hyperion

Reading Level: Ages 18 & Up

Collage by readergirlz/Lorie Ann Grover:


India Photos

Lorie Ann Grover is an award-winning author of young adult novels and board books. She is the co-founder of readergirlz, the literacy social media network awarded the Innovations in Reading Prize by the National Book Foundation. readergirlz.blogspot.com, lorieanngrover.blogspot.com


Clara Greider and Diana Varenik write:

The eye-opening novel Sold by Patricia McCormick is about a thirteen-year-old girl named Lakshmi. She lives in Nepal with her mother, Ama, her stepfather, and her little brother. Although her family lives in poverty, she enjoys the only life she knows—a small shack in the mountains, tending to goats, and helping out with the crops. But when her stepfather insists that Lakshmi get a job to support his gambling and drinking habits, she is forced to leave the home she loves and is tricked into becoming a prostitute. Thinking that she was going to live in a big, comfortable home as a maid, Lakshmi is shocked and terrified when she arrives at the Happiness House, a brothel in India. The brothel is run by the cruel, selfish Mumtaz, who subjects the girls to merciless, brutal punishments. Over time, Lakshmi becomes friends with the other girls there and with their help remains determined to escape from the horrors of the brothel.

One of the reasons that Sold is such a compelling read is that it is an encouraging story of personal perseverance. When Lakshmi arrives at the Happiness House, her whole world has virtually come to a halt in an awful place of doom. However, she doesn’t give up. Every day, she works and saves her earnings, counting the days until she is free. In the meantime, she makes the best of her situation by becoming friends with the other girls. Because the situation is so dire, but Lakshmi doesn’t lose her hope, the story has a sense of encouragement. It both captivates the reader in a story of such determination and strength in horrible situations, and teaches him or her how to rise above their adversities, however big or small they may be.

McCormick writes in free verse, expressing the story through short but powerful vignettes, from the point of view of Lakshmi. McCormick is able to capture the emotion and pain that the young girl feels using poetic language and metaphors. This style allows the reader to put him or herself in the story with her and feel her emotions. It gives the book a sense of depth and complexity. McCormick writes, “My heart is pounding like the drumming of a monsoon rain, and my shoulders are shaking as if I had a great chill.” The language used in this sentence, for example, provokes deep thoughts and feelings from the reader about what Lakshmi is going through. This is why Sold is such an amazing book.

Lakshmi’s story and journey are not only captivating because they are encouraging and well written, but because they are based on the horrifying but true realities that some girls have to go through. This book is one-of-a-kind because the topic is so unique but real. It is an eye opener for people, especially young girls, who don’t know the harsh truth about childhood prostitution. McCormick manages to open up a new dimension for readers that tells them of determination, triumph, and loss, but also teaches them about what goes on in the real world. For this major reason, Sold is an inspiring and thought-provoking book.

Overall, this book is excellent. The reader can empathize and learn from Lakshmi’s story. It illustrates the themes of adversity and perseverance and displays the message of learning to live even when life is at its hardest. If you like to immerse yourself in the meaningful, sometimes touching, lives of strong characters or enjoy reading books where there is true and clear struggle, Sold would be a great option for you. Altogether, we rate it nine out of ten stars. Patricia McCormick did a truly fine job of creating a deep and inspiring novel.

About the Contributors:

My name is Clara Greider, and I am thirteen years old. I am an eighth-grade student at Tompkins Square Middle School, a small middle school in the East Village. In my spare time, I like to do gymnastics, speak French, dance, and of course, read!  I’ve been in love with reading from the start, and writing about the books that I love is a way for me to appreciate them even more!
My name is Diana Varenik. I am thirteen and attend Tompkins Square Middle School. I am in the eighth grade. I have written many, many essays, short stories, and even attempted books, in the past. My family does a lot of writing; my mother is a writer and so is my uncle. I very much enjoy writing, but when I’m not doing that, I love to dance, sing, read, listen to music, and paint.


YPL Finalists That Year:

  • Martine Leavitt for Keturah and Lord Death
  • Patricia McCormick for Sold
  • Nancy Werlin for The Rules of Survival
  • Gene Luen Yang  for American Born Chinese

YPL Winner That Year:  M.T. Anderson for The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Vol. 1: The Pox Party

Judges That Year: Margaret Bechard, Patricia McKissack, Linda Sue Park, Benjamin Alire Sáenz, Jude Watson

The Year in Literature:  Criss Cross by Lynne Rae Perkins won the Newbery Medal. Looking for Alaska by John Green won the Printz Award.

More Information: Patricia McCormick was also a Finalist in 2012 for Never Fall Down.  In spring 2012, a film adaptation of Sold with director Jeffrey Brown was in production. Patricia McCormick says she is very pleased that Sold is being turned into a movie and believes it will bring higher visibility to the horrors of child sex trafficking. A release date has not been set, but the film is supposed to come out late in 2013.

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