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Publisher's Summary

Audie Award Finalist, Package Design, 2014
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.
©2006 Patricia McCormick (P)2012 Tantor
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Critic Reviews

"Hard-hitting...poignant. The author beautifully balances the harshness of brothel life with the poignant relationships among its residents." ( Publishers Weekly Starred Review)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Theodore on 01-13-13

Perfectly Haunting....

This book is just plain haunting... I got through this book in one sitting... This is undoubtedly going to be one of my favorite books. The book is sad, honest, raw and beautiful at the same time. It becomes one of those books that you do not want to finish because it is so good but find yourself incapable of actually stopping.

While going through the book you have the decision of either steeling yourself or to completely immerse yourself. The book surrounds Lakshmi, a 13 year old girl who goes through just goes through heartbreaking situations. The entire scope of the book lasts just one year but the tragic circumstances that she endured is more than one needs to endure for a lifetime. The writing was haunting in nature and taken from the vantage point as Lakshmi herself makes it even more heart-wrenching. You see as she moves from a hopeful, naive girl to a seemingly broken shell of her former self and then to a downright fighter. The book is gripping throughout and plays heavily on your morality and sense of humanity.

The narration, for me, was superb. The way that the narrator was able to bring across the entire story in such a haunting manner is impressive. She only adds to the mood of the book and leaves you utterly gripped to the novel. 5 Star Narration through and through here.

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57 of 60 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By AudioAddict on 05-31-14

My name is Lakshmi. I am from Nepal. I am 13.

STORY (fiction) - This is a chilling story of human trafficking which needs to be heard. It is sad, but it's beautifully written and performed. As the summary suggests, Lakshmi's parents are tricked and she is sold into prostitution at the age of 13. The book is short (3:44). It begins with perhaps an hour of her poor-but-happy life in Nepal before she is sold, then there's a trip to India where she is passed around to different bidders. The largest part of the book is her life in the brothel. It is a poignant story of how she is able to survive a life of unspeakable evil.

The story is sad but absolutely stunning. At the conclusion, the narrator spends about a minute talking about the staggering number of young girls sold into prostitution every day all over the world and what is being done to help them. I'm very glad I listened to this book.

PERFORMANCE - Beautiful. She has the perfect voice for an innocent young woman who is trying to be brave and strong. Her accent is refreshingly different, whether it's authentic Nepalese or not.

OVERALL - Mature audiences only, and I'd think this story would appeal more to women than men. There is no cursing, but there is a lot of cruel treatment. The sexual scenes are not at all graphic -- just references to things like unzipping pants, grunting, etc. I thank the author for being tastefully vague!

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37 of 39 people found this review helpful

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