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by Patricia McCormick


School Library Journal:

Gr 9 Up – As this heartbreaking story opens, 13-year-old Lakshmi lives an ordinary life in Nepal, going to school and thinking of the boy she is to marry. Then her gambling-addicted stepfather sells her into prostitution in India. Refusing to “be with men,” she is beaten and starved until she gives in. Written in free verse, the girl’s first-person narration is horrifying and difficult to read. “In between, men come./They crush my bones with their weight./They split me open./Then they disappear.” “I hurt./I am torn and bleeding where the men have been.” The spare, unadorned text matches the barrenness of Lakshmi’s new life. She is told that if she works off her family’s debt, she can leave, but she soon discovers that this is virtually impossible. When a boy who runs errands for the girls and their clients begins to teach her to read, she feels a bit more alive, remembering what it feels like to be the “number one girl in class again.” When an American comes to the brothel to rescue girls, Lakshmi finally gets a sense of hope. An author’s note confirms what readers fear: thousands of girls, like Lakshmi in this story, are sold into prostitution each year. Part of McCormick’s research for this novel involved interviewing women in Nepal and India, and her depth of detail makes the characters believable and their misery palpable. This important book was written in their honor.–Alexa Sandmann, Kent State University, OH –Staff (Reviewed September 1, 2006) (School Library Journal, vol 52, issue 9, p211)


  • Amelia Bloomer Lists – Young Adult Fiction: 2007
  • Booklist Editors’ Choice – Books for Youth – Older Readers Category: 2006
  • California Young Reader Medal: Young Adult
  • Delaware Diamonds: High School
  • Quill Book Awards (2005-2007): Young Adult/Teen
  • YALSA Best Books for Young Adults: 2007
  • YALSA Outstanding Books for the College Bound – Social Sciences: 2009
  • YALSA Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults: Hard Knock Life (2010)
  • YALSA Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers: Fiction: 2007


10th Grade, 11th Grade, 12th Grade, 9th Grade, Education, Friendship, Teen, Women's Rights