By Patricia McCormick
Hyperion Books, 2006. 263 pgs. Fiction
Thirteen-year-old Lakshmi leaves in the mountains of Nepal with her mother and step-father. Their family is so desperately poor that when poor weather and the gambling habits of her step-father threaten their very survival, Lakshmi has to leave their small town and work in the city. Although she was told that she would be working as a maid, she actually is forced into prostitution, owned by a ruthless woman who is determined to lie and cheat her way into keeping Lakshmi from returning to her home.
Told as a series of vignettes, this is a heartbreaking yet hopeful story based on extensive research by Patricia McCormick. Through short passages, Lakshmi provides enough narration to show the desperation she and her mother feel, trying to scrape up enough of living to survive. Lakshmi's pain, fear, and strength also come through clearly. Although not explicit, the book doesn't shy away from conveying the necessary aspects of prostitution. Beautifully written, this is a story that one hopes will be read and make readers aware of the horrible situation so many children in the world find themselves stuck in.