Sunday, June 03, 2007

Speaking of India...

Forget mysticism, fable and religion. Sold is a reality widely unseen in teen lit since Homeless Bird. And if you found India disturbing in Whelan's novel, McCormick isn't going to make you feel better.

Lakshmi's step-father drinks and gambles away whatever money the family has. The young Nepalese girl hates to leave, but when her step-father finds a position for her in Calcutta as a maid, Lakshmi decides that the sacrifice is worth it - her mother looks longingly at the tin roofs her neighbors have replaced thatch with - maybe she can help her mom get her roof. Only her step-father hasn't gotten her a job as a maid. He's sold her into prostitution.

Prose poetry is an interesting format. It can be more emotional, more visceral. But McCormick uses it differently here - she creates some distance between Lakshmi and the reader. It facilitates the fade out, the gaps in the action that we really don't want to experience any more that Lakshmi does. This may be a good thing, experiencing such horror at arm's length rather than from within the heart. The situation and reality is horrific enough for anyone. You still ache with despair for these girls, any more would be too much.

I've heard mutterings of irritation about a little detail in how the story ends; and they have a point, however, I'm not in a place where I can evaluate if that can truly be considered conveniently ethnocentric or not. You decide. Feel free to let me know what you think.

You don't need me to tell you whether this one is good. It was a National Book Award Finalist.

For more information on Human Trafficking:

U.S. Dept of Health and Human Services Campaign to Rescue & Restore Victims of Human Trafficking
Human Rights Watch
Frontline Investigation


Anonymous said...

I absolutely loved this book and I think I'm one of the rare readers that thought the ending was just right. I'm glad to see you enjoyed the book too!

Anonymous said...

This is so ironic because Allie was just raving about this book to me, and was shocked I hadn't read it yet. Why, oh why do I feel so behind?