Lorenzo Walker Tech HS & Institute of Tech

Friday, September 28, 2007

Off the Shelf 0708-6

By Patricia McCormick
© 2006

It is difficult to imagine the life of Lakshmi, a thirteen-year old Nepalese girl. Living in poverty with little hope of change, Lakshmi still tries to delight in the small things that life offers. Ingrained in her culture is the small and insignificant value of her gender compared to that of males. She watches as her mother, "serves my stepfather her dinner, she kneels at his feet." For Lakshmi, her worth is measured as a commodity when she is sold to a house of prostitution in India. Thinking that she is going to a wealthy home to serve as a maid, her innocence is soon lost when the reality of her situation becomes obvious.

The storyline is compelling, though certainly disturbing. McCormick's beautiful and poetic writing contrasts with the harsh realities that face Lakshmi.

Inside the bundle Ama packed for me are:
my bowl,
my hairbrush,
the notebook my teacher 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.

The chapters are short - on average, one page long. The brevity, however, does not shadow the more complex and deeper meaning of her writing

This book won't appeal to those looking for light content, but it is well-worthwhile nonetheless. Although it is fiction, Lakshmi's story is based on truth as "each year, nearly 12,000 Nepali girls are sold by their families, intentionally or unwittingly, into a life of sexual slavery in the brothels of India." (McCormick, p. 264). Troublesome as that statistic is, the worldwide estimates of nearly half a million trafficked is even more gruesome. This book is an excellent springboard for further conversation about these sociological issues.

My recommendation: 5 out of 5 stars
Submitted by M. Coleman, Media Specialist

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