Young Adult Lit/Crit

January 25, 2008

SOLD by Patricia McCormick

Filed under: Look What I'm Reading for Book Club! — sostrom @ 4:30 pm

I just finished Sold by Patricia McCormick last night.  It’s about a Lakshmi, a Nepalese girl who is sold into prostitution by her stepfather.  The narrative is sparse, yet rich.  Lakshmi’s voice demonstrates her struggle to understand who she is – child or adult, innocent or guilty, hopeful or hopeless.  Also, the narrative style is poetic and stream of consciousness and therefore heartbreaking.  The language is accessible, so the focus is on content.  The book is graphic enough for students to understand the horror of Lakshmi’s situation, but not at all gratuitous.  I could see myself recommending this book to students who have enjoyed (not sure if that’s really the right word…) A Child Called It.  I think this would be a book that could give students the push to the next level that we talked about in class because it would likely expose students to a topic and culture they know little about.   I could see both boys and girls liking this book.  However, I could see how the first 50 pages or so about Lakshmi’s life in her small Himalayan village might not initially grab a reader’s attention.  These scenes are important for contrast and establish the financial hardships of the family, so I would encourage students to stick with it. 



  1. I wonder Sarah what you are thinking about how the “Americans” are portrayed in SOLD? What did you think McCormick is suggesting about our efforts–which she no doubt has a keen understanding of–around the world to intervene in child prostitution? Interesting to me….Karen

    Comment by sunyprof — January 27, 2008 @ 8:43 pm

  2. Interesting to me, too. It seems that McCormick is portraying Americans as saviors – in the end, the only ones Lakshmi can really trust, the only ones who are honest with her. I think her portrayal is fitting for her intended (American) audience. We are portrayed as heroic and as having the power to battle the evil of child prostitution in other countries.

    Comment by sostrom — January 27, 2008 @ 10:43 pm

  3. I keep hearing great things about Sold. It sounds like a tough, but important book. Thanks for giving me another push towards reading it!

    Comment by katefrazer — January 30, 2008 @ 9:02 pm

  4. Sarah, and Dr. S, and Kate- You’ve convinced me and I am reading SOLD next.I’ll add to this discussion on the book when I finish it.


    Comment by joycehansen — January 31, 2008 @ 3:43 am

  5. I read and reviewed “Sold” last semester for Professor Stearns’ AED 541 class, and found it breathtaking. The depiction of Americans as the saviors of the world and the right-doers is unmistakable. I do not, however, find it snobbish or biased, despite the obvious preference for Americans. When reading “Sold,” I too thought about “A Child Called It,” and the additional books the author of “A Child Called It” wrote. Texts, such as these, resonate with many teenagers and young adults. Be it a personal experience of neglect and/or abuse, or knowing someone who has endured neglect and/or abuse, young readers are being exposed to graphic, “adult” situations that I believe need to be incorporated into their readings. Also, if they have not experienced or learned about such events (which is extremely fortunate for them!), then these texts will expose them to another side of the world. In addition to the beauty of life, they should be able to read about the pains and struggles in life that are known as reality.


    Comment by jexter1 — January 31, 2008 @ 2:25 pm

  6. I can finally join this discussion on SOLD.

    This week I read SOLD for book club and I have several things to add to this discussion. First, I am interested in the way that Lakshmi’s village in Nepal is sexist, vocally sexist, and that the children are even aware of the sexual division. The passage on page 8 about the difference between sons and daughters is a prime example of this idea. For those of you who have read the book, you know what I’m talking about. This idea of being “good as long as she gives you milk and butter” seems to be reflected in the practices of Happiness House, Milk being a stand-in for fertility and perhaps youth, and Butter being the general category of working labor. “Not worth crying over when it’s time to make stew” kind of sums up the rejection of women once they can’t provide sex and labor, a thought that makes me shudder. This would be a good start for discussions on sexism and ageism in the classroom.

    Additionally, there is a repetition of the “Everything I need to know” passage. In this repetition, the reader is able to discern how non-traditional learning is passed on from experienced women to less-experienced women. In what ways, I wonder, is this style of learning passing on cultural learning, social learning, employment learning, survival learning…

    Thank you for inspiring me to read this novel. I will definately pass it on.


    Comment by joycehansen — February 12, 2008 @ 12:25 pm

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