National Book Award Finalist
Publishers Weekly, Best 100 Books of 2006
National Public Radio’s Best Books of the Year 2006
American Library Association, Top Ten List, Best Books of the Year, 2006
Gustav-Heinemann Peace Prize, 2009
Booklist 2006 Editor’s Choice Award
New York Public Library Best Books for the Teenage
Children’s Literature Council’s Choice
Book Sense Pick
Told in a series of haunting vignettes, SOLD is a harrowing account of a sexual slavery. Alternating lyrical imagery with precise detail, McCormick gives voice to the terror and bewilderment of a young girl robbed of her childhood but who finds the strength to triumph.
SOLD was a National Book Award Finalist.
Praise for SOLD:
“Hard-hitting … poignant. The author beautifully balances the harshness of brothel life with the poignant relationships among its residents.”
– Publishers Weekly starred review
“An unforgettable account of sexual slavery as it exists now.”
– Booklist starred review
“The writing is breathtaking in both its simplicity and attention to detail … stunning … this novel is not to be missed.”
— Voice of Youth Advocates
“Searing … poetic.”
– The Horn Book
“McCormick provides readers who live in safety and under protection of the law with a vivid window into a harsh and cruel world—one most would prefer to pretend doesn’t exist.”
“Hearbreaking … McCormick’s research for this novel involved interviewing women in Nepal and India, and her depth of detail makes the characters believable and their misery palpable. This important book was written in their honor.”
– School Library Journal
“McCormick uses language both lyrical and spare to lead the reader into this deeply troubled and troubling world …this is a story of courage, which is precisely what it takes to plant one’s literary work in unfamiliar soil.”
“SOLD is a demanding at at times painful book to read. These challenges, however, only serve to heighten the impact of the powerful and important novel that sheds light on a global crisis.”
SOLD the Movie
SOLD is a narrative, feature film adaptation of the my novel. The goal of the film is to inspire a global movement to address the child trafficking crime domestically and internationally.
Globally, the average age of a trafficked girl is thirteen, the same age as the girl in the film. The movie SOLD is a call to action, and a testament to the power and resilience of the human spirit.
A PG-13, 50 minute version of SOLD the firm is available for use by high schools and colleges, as well as faith based and community screenings.
SOLD is directed by Academy and Emmy award-winner, Jeffrey D. Brown and Executive Produced by two-time Academy Award winner, Emma Thompson.
Watch the movie trailer below. Click here to request a screening
for your school.
To research SOLD, I traveled to India and Nepal, where I interviewed the women of Calcutta’s red-light district and girls who have been rescued from the sex trade. Here are answers to some questions frequently asked about the book.
What inspired you to tell this story?
In the past few years, the trafficking of children has gotten a good deal of media attention. But eight years years ago, when I had a chance meeting with a photographer who was working undercover to document the presence of young girls in brothels overseas, I knew immediately that I wanted to do what no one else had done so far: tell this heartbreaking story from the point of view of one individual girl.
I believe that young adults want to know what’s happening to their peers on the other side of the world, but that media accounts, by their very nature, cannot usually go beyond the surface. To me, there is nothing more powerful— or permanent—than the impact of a book. Here’s a link to a trailer for the film: SOLD, a film produced by Emma Thompson
What did your travel to India and Nepal bring to your story?
I spent a month in India and Nepal tracing Lakshmi’s steps—going from a poor, isolated village in the foothills of the Himalayas all the way to the teeming red-light district of Calcutta. Trained as an investigative reporter, I took notes and photos observing the sights, smells, foods, sounds, and the customs— details to give the book authenticity. I also interviewed women in the red-light district, girls who had been rescued, and a man who had sold his girlfriend in exchange for a motorcycle. It helped that I was a foreigner in the busy streets of Kathmandu and Calcutta, because I was as bewildered and awestruck by these places as Lakshmi is in the novel.
What were the challenges of bringing Lakshmi’s story to life?
Perhaps the biggest challenge was not to let the sadness of the situation overwhelm me. When I first came home from India, I fell into a despair unlike anything I’d ever felt before—something I now understand was a delayed reaction to the suffering I’d witnessed. Moreover inadequate to the task of doing justice to the stories the women had entrusted to me. But when I thought about the young girls who might be recruited to take their places as the women became ill or died, what I felt was urgency—urgency that their experiences be known and understood by the outside world. And I began to write.
It was also a challenge to keep the book from being too grim, and to keep Lakshmi’s humanity alive in a believable way. It was important to remember that, in even the grimmest of situations, there is kindness as well as cruelty, terror as well as boredom, and even, surprising as it may seem, humor.
Why did you decide to tell the story in a series of vignettes?
I started writing the book in small scenes because, initially, it was too daunting to imagine that I could tell Lakshmi’s entire story. Once I had a handful of these scenes, the book began to take shape. Eventually, vignettes seemed to be the right way to tell a story that is inherently so fractured—if not shattering. I also think the “white space” between vignettes calls on the reader to engage his or her imagination in the story-telling process to fill in the blanks.
Why did you decide to have a white American man rescue Lakshmi?
I chose to include a white American in the story for a number of reasons. One, the person who inspired me to write the book was, indeed, a white American photographer posing as a customer so he could find young girls in brothels. This character is a ‘thank you’ to him. And two, I was writing for a primarily American audience and I wanted readers to see a version of themselves involved in fighting the problem. BUT if I had to do it over again, I think I would rewrite it to show the brave and effective work that local people are also doing to fight trafficking.
How can we help?
Educate yourself by visiting the Web sites in this guide, then work to raise awareness among your friends and family members, your church or school. Write an essay for your school paper or a letter to your local paper or your congressman. Organize a student group at your school, then show a film about trafficking, invite a speaker, and raise or donate money. The cost of living in countries where trafficking takes place is very low; one week’s allowance, for instance, could go a long way toward providing medicine, toys, or books for the children of the red-light district, or could contribute to the work of organizations that stop trafficking and provide safety for victims.
As Eli Weisel said, “Let us remember: what hurts the victim most is not the cruelty of the oppressor, but the silence of the bystander.”
Good Morning America included SOLD in a story, Teens at Risk, Alarming Increase in Teen Trafficking.
with Ingrid Roper
PW: You've tackled many tough subjects for young adults before—including cutting and substance abuse. What led you to write about the topic of sex trafficking?
McCormick: Five years ago, I was on vacation and chatting with a photographer, and he said he was documenting girls in brothels. And I thought, "I have to tell that story from the girl's point of view." I think if there's a theme in any of my work, it's that I give a voice to situations where the people who are experiencing [them] don't have the voice yet.