Oh my, what can I say about this book?  It is the hardest and easiest book to read.  It is easy to read because the sentences are short and it is told through a young girls words.  It is hard to read because I know there are young girls experiencing this situation even today.  It is the story of a young girl in India who is sold by her stepfather.  She thinks she is going to the city which she has never seen to be a maid.  She accepts this situation with grace and dignity.  But the buyers want more than a cleaning woman.  She is sold into prostitution.  The story is tastefully told with the young girls feelings well expressed.  This book is emotionally very powerful.  Because of the mature content I would not recommend it to students below high school level.  But, parents might feel their junior high students could handle the book.  Discussion of this book might help change the world situation. 

There is so much to admire about the writing in this book.  The joy and happiness of a Lakshmi’s life in India is seen along with the poverty of her village.  The dignity of her mother is contrasted with the stepfather who deserves no admiration.  Lakshmi’s life is simple and  her trip to the city exposes her to things she has never seen or known. (electricy, televisions etc)  Her innocence is sharply contrasted with the adults who traffic in human beings for a living.  The worked she if forced to do is contrasted with the kindness of people caught in the same trap.  In the end Lakshmi’s courage shapes her future. 

National Book Award Finalist