Lakshmi is a thirteen-year-old girl who lives with her family in a small hut on a mountain in Nepal. Though she is desperately poor, her life is full of simple pleasures, like playing hopscotch with her best friend from school, and having her mother brush her hair by the light of an oil lamp. But when the harsh Himalayan monsoons wash away all that remains of the family’s crops, 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 in the city. Glad to be able to help, Lakshmi journeys to India and arrives at “Happiness House” full of hope. But she soon learns the unthinkable truth: she has been sold into prostitution.
An old woman named Mumtaz rules the brothel with cruelty and cunning. She tells Lakshmi that she is trapped there until she can pay off her family’s debt—then cheats Lakshmi of her meager earnings so that she can never leave.
Lakshmi’s life becomes a nightmare from which she cannot escape. Still, she lives by her mother’s words— Simply to endure is to triumph—and gradually, she forms friendships with the other girls that enable her to survive in this terrifying new world. Then the day comes when she must make a decision—will she risk everything for a chance to reclaim her life?
Well, this book was a very interesting book. Let me begin by saying that this is not a book that I would pick up at a bookstore simply because it’s not a book that I would typically read. I had to read this book for school and I was surprised at everything that happened in the book. Lakshmi is not a girl that the author based off of one person she met, but rather multiple women she met in Nepal who were forced into sex trafficking. Lakshmi is a young girl of the age thirteen. She is naive to the reality of what happens when girls are told they will work as maids, which is expected because she is a child. One day, Lakshmi’s stepfather takes her down to the local shop where she is told she will go to the city to work as a maid. Upon arriving in the city, Lakshmi is surprised to learn that everything there is not what she expected. Lakshmi is taken to the Happiness House, where she is forced into being with men. This book was a very emotional book for me and a challenging one for me to read, simply because this stuff happens to young girls in real life and that is the harsh reality of life. I found it extremely horrible that Lakshmi was forced into having sex with much older men and she was only thirteen years old. I felt that throughout everything that was happening to her, Lakshmi remained a very strong person. I, being only fifteen, cannot imagine what I would do if it were me in that situation, but I felt Lakshmi stayed strong and held onto hope when most girls would have given up long ago. Overall, this book is a very difficult book to read because of what happens to the girls in the Happiness House. I feel like every time one of the girls started to have hope, something horrible happened and things got even worse for them. I will say that I have to give this book five out of five coffee creamers because it was that good. I definitely recommend this to people looking for a tough and challenging read, but just be warned that the book is graphic and has some very mature themes.