This is the heart-wrenching story of Lakshmi, a poor fourteen year-old girl who lives with her mother, brother, and stepfather in Nepal. She tries to live a normal life, but she is always worried about food, clothing, and the roof over their heads. It does not help that her stepfather seems to gamble away the little money they have and makes none of it himself. Then he convinces Lakshmi's mother to send her away to the city to be a maid. Neither mother nor daughter wants this, but sacrifices must be made, so Lakshmi leaves with Auntie. Where she ends up is horror filled as she discovers she has been sold into sexual slavery. Forced to sleep with men, she is beaten nearly to death if she tries to fights back. Lakshmi is devastated, knowing that her stepfather did this to her, and her mother had no idea what has happened. Just a young girl forced into adulthood; will she survive? Should she risk her life to leave this awful one behind? Is there any help anywhere?
This book was finished within hours because of the format and because it was wonderful. Novel in-verse is like poetry, but no rhyming. Instead each page has a title and there is a paragraph that explains that title in detail. Put them all together and you have a book. This was an amazing story; McCormick never fails to make me believe the characters and the situation. She sends powerful messages in small books that impact us like no other. The horror on my student's faces is real when I tell them that sexual slavery still exists today, and Lakshmi does not live in the early 1900's, but instead, the early 2000's. This book will keep you glued until you finish.