New York : Hyperion Books, 2006
Lakshmi's family is desperately poor, but village life in the mountains of Nepal has its share of pleasures. When the monsoons wreck their crops yet again, Lakshmi's stepfather says she must leave home and take a job to support her family. She arrives at 'Happiness House' full of hope, but soon learns the unthinkable truth - she has been sold into prostitution.
This new world becomes a nightmare from which there is no escape. But, very gradually, Lakshmi makes friends with others in the house, and gathers her courage, until the day she has to face the hardest decision of all: will she risk everything to reclaim her life? (Rhode Island Teen Book Award nominee 2007-2008)
Lakshmi, a thirteen-year-old from a mountain village in Nepal, thinks she is being hired as a maid. Instead, she is forced into prostitution in India when her stepfather "trades" her for 800 rupees. (Florida Teen Reads nominee, 2007-2008)
Thirteen-year-old Lakshmi lives with her beloved mother, her good-for-nothing stepfather, and a younger brother in a small shack in the Nepal Mountains. She spends her days gathering water, completing her household chores, and tending to her goat and to a small garden. She and her family’s living conditions are affected by extreme weather conditions that range from endless heat to damaging monsoons. Yet she is happy. She excels at school. She is promised in marriage to a local boy. She understands the differences in the social structure of her country’s people and has few dreams except for maybe earning enough money one day to help her mother put a tin roof on the family’s shack. Her friend, Gita, has been able to help her family improve their living conditions by taking a job as a maid in the city. Lakshmi can only hope that the future might bring her a similar situation. Unfortunately, her step-father seems to be predestined to destroy everything he touches, and after bad luck and bad weather, he ends up losing what little extra money the family has. He decides to send Lakshmi off with a woman who has promised to find her work in the city. In payment, he receives 800 Rupees, approximately $20 US Dollars. Instead, of heading into the city, the woman takes Lakshmi across Nepal and into Calcutta, India where young Nepalese women are sold into the sex trade. Lakshmi’s life becomes a nightmare. Her only respite comes from her uneasy and short-lived friendships with the other girls at Happiness House and with a boy who secretly helps her learn Hindi and a few English words. Lakshmi’s only hope is to earn enough money to one day repay her debt and return to her family. She is too frightened even to allow herself to hope for escape: "This affliction --- hope --- is so cruel and stubborn. I believe it will kill me." The selling of women in Nepal is a global situation that many young readers are not aware of. Patricia McCormick tells Lakshmi’s horrific story in details that are often painful to read, but with such sensitivity, the reader develops compassion for her and an awareness of this horrific practice. (Mary M. Silgals, Trident Academy, for South Carolina Young Adult Book Awards, 2008-2009)
Life has been a challenge for 13-year-old Lakshmi and her family. The monsoons have spoiled their crops, the step-father gambles away what little income the family has, and there doesn’t seem to be any hope for the family. When a well dressed “Auntie” comes to the village offering to train Lakshimi as a maid for a wealthy urban family, she is able to send money home to her parents. Unknowingly, Lakshmi is sold into sexual bondage and taken across the border into Calcutta where she doesn’t know the language and has no way to escape the unspeakable things inflicted upon her. One bright turn comes into her life when a delivery boy begins to teach Lakshmi to read. Not a book you will necessarily “enjoy” reading, but an important book because although it is fiction, it deals with the real world problem of human bondage. Patricia McCormick spent time in Nepal and India researching this book that deals (sensitively) with a mature theme. (Pennsylvania Young Reader’s Choice Awards nominee, 2008-2009)
Human trafficking -- Fiction.
Calcutta (India) -- Fiction.
Child prostitution -- Fiction.
Brothels -- Fiction.