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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.
AudioFile Magazine Review:
Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award
“This stunning novel by the gifted McCormick centers on 13-year-old Lakshmi, who lives with her family in the mountains of Nepal and is tricked into a life of prostitution. Raw, bitter, honest, and unnerving, the story comes to life in a vivid and personal performance by Justine Eyre. With a pitch-perfect tone that is as unrelenting as the story, Eyre delivers a stellar performance that embodies the main character’s quest in the utmost detail. Eyre’s dialect is astute and precise, lending a credibility that affects the overall experience. The result is a memorable event that will no doubt have listeners returning for another listening experience with Eyre for years to come.”
Paired in SYNC With:
Let Me Stand Alone:
The Journals of Rachel Corrie
By Rachel Corrie
Read by Tavia Gilbert
Published by Blackstone Audiobooks