Synopsis: 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? (from the back of the book)
Review: After reading this novel, it does not surprise me that it won so many awards. Told in sparse language, in a poem-like format, the reader follows Lakshmi for her poor village to the rooms of a brothel. Her heart break, her confusion and hurt, her hope and despair - it displayed in such a way the reader become Lakshmi, and feels what she feels. A powerful work, one worth reading. I most certainly recommend.
Bookmarks: 8 of 10
Awards: ALA Top 10 Best Book for Young Adults 2007, National Book
Award Finalist 2007, National Public Radio - Top 100 Books of the Year 2007, Book
Sense Pick 2007, California Young Reader Medal 2007, Quill Award 2007, Gustav-Heinemann-Peace
Prize 2008, Elliot Rosewater Award 2009-2010
Date Finished: 4-19-2015