Audiobook Review: Sold by Patricia McCormick

Audiobook Review: Sold by Patricia McCormickSold by Patricia McCormick
Narrator: Justine Eyre
Length: 3 hrs, 44 mins
Published by Tantor Media on November 26, 2012
Genres: Contemporary
Format: Audiobook
Source: Library
AmazonThe Book DepositoryAudible

Sold into prostitution, Lakshmi lives a nightmare and gradually 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 to risk everything for a chance to reclaim her life.

Patricia McCormick’s Sold was a nominee for the National Book award and made ALA’s Top Ten Best Books for Young Adults. Clearly, it was pretty popular and received much praise. Sadly, though, I did not enjoy it, either in print or on audio. I first read it in grad school for young adult services class and just reread it. While I do see the book’s many merits and take no issue with the book’s critical success, it’s one of those that doesn’t work for me.

To start with, I have to point out what I think should be obvious: I’m glad this is a story that’s being told. McCormick’s drawing attention to one of the scariest facts of life. In Sold, thirteen-year-old Lakshmi is sold by her stepfather into a life of prostitution. Her life consists of misery after misery. She falls into a severe depression, her tone seeming that of a much older person, someone having lost all hope, when she’s only fourteen. While her story is fictional, many girls in the world are living something very similar. These stories need to be told.

Because I love the concept and the message so much, I really wish I loved the book. However, something about it really does not resonate with me. Lakshmi’s narrative voice might be right on point, but I don’t find her especially compelling. Frankly, I spent a lot of time on both reads bored. The writing’s also a more simplistic style than I personally enjoy. Both of these things are subjective, and McCormick surely made the right call based on the reception of the book by everyone else I know who’s read it, but no book fits every reader and I’m not the right one for this particular book.

This time around, I had an additional struggle with Sold. Namely, the audiobook is narrated by Justine Eyre. Though I do find Eyre to be quite a skilled audiobook narrator, I find the casting of her for Lakshmi quite upsetting. Eyre is Canadian, and part Kiwi. What she’s not is Nepalese or even remotely from that same region of the world. It may be that it really is that difficult to find audiobook narrators that aren’t white, but shouldn’t that just lead to a search for them? Surely there are people who would like jobs. I’m sure the makers of the audiobook didn’t mean any harm, but to me hiring a white woman to perform the role of a Nepalese girl, while doing a stereotypical accent, is whitewashing.

What it comes down to is that I think Sold is a great book for a different kind of reader, and I wouldn’t want to put anyone off of reading it. However, I would suggest not going with the audio if you’re also bothered by the casting.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

nick uncomfortable gif

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