Sunday, February 27, 2011

Issue Book: Sold

It was perhaps unfortunate that I read (via Rethinking Schools: Save the Muslim Girl! article right before reading Patricia McCormick's Sold.  The article talks about some of the problems with having all portrayals of Muslim girls in Afghanistan and Pakistan come from white women concerned with the oppression and degradation forced upon girls by their religion and culture. It's not a complete picture, and it encourages complacency about the status of women in the author's own culture.

Sold is about an oppressed and degraded Nepalese girl, and is written by a white woman.  It even has the victimizing picture of part of a girl's face, covered by a veil, as the cover.  The girl's step-father sells her into sexual slavery (possibly by accident) with the collusion of her willfully stupid mother, and then only the intercession of helpful Americans gives her a chance of rescue.  So it hits a lot of the warning notes sounded in the article.  Of course, it also appears to be a realistic account of things that have actually happened to girls in Lakshmi's situation.

For me personally, the short, blank-verse style paragraphs made Lakshmi seemed naive and slow, beyond what I'd expect from a thirteen year old.  Her mother seemed unreasonably stupid in supporting the evil step-father, explicitly telling her daughter that even a worthless man was better than no man but never giving any hints as to why.  I found myself wishing for a nonfiction version, so that I would know whether the foolishness was imposed by the author or just a part of our narrator.   But really I just tend to dislike verse novels in general, so I'm probably not the best reader for this book.

McCormick does vividly show the horrors of the situation; Laksmi's earlier, happier life and then the almost unremitting misery of the prostitution industry and how hopeless the women involved are.  It's an important issue, and this books helps people realize that it's a modern problem.  B-


Sam M said...

I just finished and reviewed Beneath My Mother's Feet. I liked it, and I think it addresses some of the "Save the Muslim girl!" issues. So there's another one...

Beth said...

I'll add that one to my TBR list.