Sold is a lyrically beautiful and graphically descriptive story of an innocent 13-year-old Nepalese girl from the mountains, sold by her oppressive gambling addict step-father and trafficked into India to become a prostitute in a brothel run by a woman with no morals. There, Lakshmi’s body is sold for the price of a Coca-Cola – a luxury she’d once cherished as a poor country girl. When she’d left home, she’d believed she was to become a maid in a rich woman’s household in the big city where she could save and send money home to her beloved mother and her baby brother. The reality is soul-crushing. She’s told so many lies she doesn’t know what to believe.
Justine Eyre‘s narration is wonderful. I truly believed she was from that part of the world, but it turns out she’s just great with accents. I was transfixed by her voice. Lakshmi’s pain and horror at her situation is palpable. What makes it worse: once a prostitute, always a prostitute. There’s no going home to your family if you manage to escape. You’ll be shunned for bringing shame and dishonour to them. The only way out is HIV and death. As Lakshmi’s fellow prostitutes fall prey to these, she eventually becomes the one to have resided in the brothel the longest. She survives her sexually-transmitted disease and endures the daily humiliations in the hopes of one day being free.
My only criticism: that Americans were Lakshmi’s saviours. The white man. Considering the Author’s Note at the end, describing how ex-prostitutes patrol the Nepal-India border and the work of various organisations (like this one) who work with the governments of these nations, it would be much easier to infiltrate these despicable places if the ‘rescuers’ were Indian themselves.
*This was downloaded for free during AudiobookSync‘s annual giveaway event.