Within the first few pages, I was hooked. Completely attached to Lakshmi, a thirteen year old country girl from Nepal. I feared for her when she was on her way to Calcutta, though she herself was oblivious of her situation. The whole time she fantasizes about the city with gold roofs; fantasizes about the luxuries her family can now enjoy with the money she earns as a maid. When Lakshmi arrives at the “Happiness House” and sees girls “wearing dresses of ever color,” adorned with flashy jewelry, eyes painted “with black crayon,” and lips “like red chilis,” I wanted to tell her that this is not where movie stars live.
A short fictive novel based on extensive research and true experiences, Sold is a glimpse into the Indian sex trade. You may find yourself cringing with Lakshmi, crumbling the book with hatred, when the fish-lips man becomes her first customer. You may find yourself shouting at the book, trying to get Lakshmi to understand that the American man is not trying to “trick you and shame you and make you walk naked in public.” No, he is your route to freedom. You will want to nudge her, encourage her to follow him.
Overall, this is truly a book worth reading. Although it did leave me with the devastating thought of, “if this is a toned down version of reality, than how much more cruel is reality for these girls?”