Author(s): Patricia McCormick
Lakshmi is a thirteen-year-old girl who lives with her family in a small hut on a mountain in Nepal. Though she is desperately poor, her life is full of simple pleasures, like playing hopscotch with her best friend from school and having her mother brush her hair by the light of an oil lamp. But when the harsh Himalayan monsoons wash away all that remains of the family's crops, Lakshmi's stepfather says she must leave home and take a job to support her family. He introduces her to a glamorous stranger who tells her she will find her a job as a maid in the city. Glad to be able to help, Lakshmi journeys to India and arrives at "Happiness House" full of hope. But she soon learns the unthinkable truth: she has been sold into prostitution.An old woman named Mumtaz rules the brothel with cruelty and cunning. She tells Lakshmi that she is trapped there until she can pay off her family's debt-then cheats Lakshmi of her meager earnings so that she can never leave.Lakshmi's life becomes a nightmare from which she cannot escape. Still, she lives by her mother's words-Simply to endure is to triumph-and gradually, she forms friendships with the other girls that enable her to survive in this terrifying new world. Then the day comes when she must make a decision-will she risk everything for a chance to reclaim her life? Written in spare and evocative vignettes, this powerful novel renders a world that is as unimaginable as it is real, and a girl who not only survives but triumphs.
Winner of Eliot Rosewater Indiana High School Book Award 2009 and California Young Reader Medals: Intermediate 2007.
STARRED REVIEW, PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, 28-8-06, US : The author beautifully balances the harshness of brothel life with the poignant relationships among its residents. Readers will admire Lakshmi's grit and intelligence, and be grateful for a ray of hope for this memorable heroine at book's end.
KIRKUS, 1-9-06, US: McCormick provides readers who live in safety and under protection of the law with a vivid window into a harsh and cruel world - one most would prefer to pretend doesn't exist.
Mike Shuttleworth, ACYL, Oct-06: The reader will be gripped and anguished by this haunting book.
Patricia McCormick is a critically acclaimed author for young adults. Her debut novel, Cut, captivated teenagers and adults alike, becoming a bestseller in America and winning numerous awards. This was followed by the equally applauded My Brother's Keeper. Patricia holds a master's degree in creative writing, and has contributed regularly to The New York Times. She lives in New York City with her husband and two children, and says the coolest thing she's done lately (perhaps the coolest thing she's ever done) was to go rappelling off a cliff in the Blue Mountains of Australia. ..Visit the author's website at www.pattymccormick.com...Awards: American Library Association Best Book of the Year and Top Ten Quick Pick, New York Public Library Best Book for the Teenager, Children's Literature Council's Choice, Teen People Book-of-the-Month selection.