Thursday, September 24, 2015


McCormick, Patricia. Sold. New York: Hyperion, 2006. Print.
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Plot summary (from the inside cover)
"Lakshmi is a thirteen-year-old girl who lives with her family in a small hut on a mountain in Nepal. Her family is desperately poor...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 working for a wealthy woman in the city. Glad to be able to help, Lakshmi undertakes the long journey to India and arrives at 'Happiness House' full of hope. But she soon learns the unthinkable truth: she has been sold into prostitution."

My Thoughts
The content of the book made this a tough read. How can young girls (9-18) be subjected to this kind of life, and we (the rest of the world) seemingly do NOTHING to change their plight? Well, that's not exactly true. There are many people trying to stop this form of slavery.

The novel is written in verse form. It starts with her meager life in the mountains. Her stepfather accepts 800 rupees for her (McCormick 53). Does he know where she's really going and what she'll have to do? When she packs, she has:
my bowl, 
my hairbrush, 
the notebook my teachers gave me for being the number one
girl in school, 
and my bedroll.

Inside my head I carry: 
my baby goat, 
my baby brother,
my ama's face, 
our family's future. 

My bundle is light.
My burden is heavy. (McCormick 60)

On her journey, she learns that if she tries to run away, her head will be shaved and she will be publicly disgraced. When she arrives at Happiness House, she wonders if this is "where the movie stars live" (McCormick 91). That broke my heart seeing that she was still so hopeful for her future. Just a few pages later, she learns what her future really will be. She must do whatever she is asked to do. 

McCormick writes a powerful story that has stayed with me. I think about the countless girls (and boys) who are promised things and then must endure such atrocities because they "owe" their captive. When Lakshmi decides she will work hard to pay off her debt, she quickly learns that her "expenses" are never met with the money she's made. She is devastated. "Because if [another girl] is right, everything I've done here, everything that's been done to me, was for nothing" (McCormick 239). She does get hope to escape, but even that is painful. "This affliction--hope--is so cruel and stubborn, I believe it will kill me" (McCormick 256). 

Even though her character is fictional, McCormick writes about the research she did to create Lakshmi's story. 

Tuesday, September 8, 2015


Howard, A. G. Splintered. New York: Amulet Books, 2013. Print.
Howard, A. G. Unhinged. New York: Amulet Books, 2014. Print.
Howard, A. G. Ensnared. New York: Amulet Books, 2015. Print.

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My Thoughts:
I thought I'd write about this series instead of each book at a time. I met A.G. Howard two years ago at library conference. Book Two's cover was being unveiled. (Oh, it is SO pretty!). I got my book autographed and it stayed on the shelf. The next year at library conference, I saw her again, and got the second book autographed (and a picture with her. I think we could be sisters!). Finally, this summer, I started reading this Alice in Wonderland retelling. Except it isn't, but it is.

Howard takes a story and weaves Lewis Carroll into it. We see some "corrections" to Carroll's story.I enjoyed reading the details. I took my time while to imagine the scenes, characters and places that Howard describes. I was transported to another place through the books.

When I started reading Unhinged, I started making notes for this blog. Well, 2 1/2 months have passed since reading these books, and I'm just now blogging. I was stuck in what to say. How much detail do I give you or do I let you experience the story for yourself? (This wins.). When I read the third book, I marked pages or "interesting" things that I thought I would include here. I'm not doing that after all. I think I could reread this series and have different passages that "speak" to me. Truly, this is a series that will either capture you or drive you mad (pun intended).  There are a few flaws with the story (especially for me in the third book. I didn't like the jump in time nor the Epilogue insertion).

I'm not much of an Alice in Wonderland person. I didn't grow up with those stories (which is now on my to read pile), but I very much enjoyed Howard's spin and infusion of Wonderland. I very much enjoyed the details and characters. I liked almost playing detective while reading, figuring out how things connected together. I enjoyed the attention to detail that Howard writes that made the story truly come alive in my brain. I liked how the covers mirrored the characters in the book (sometimes the book covers don't fit. I think the person who created all three beauties actually read the book!).

I read all three books in this series with just reading a few minutes a day. This is a very descriptive series that will attract fantasy lovers, readers who enjoy classic stories retold, and those who enjoy a good versus evil driven plot.