SOLD tells the heartbreaking story of 13-year-old Lakshmi who lives in a village in the Himalayan Mountains of Nepal, going to school and working hard to tend her familys rice paddies. Her family is desperately poor, but her life is full of simple pleasures, like raising her black-and-white speckled goat, and having her mother brush her hair by the light of an oil lamp. When her family loses the little it has in a monsoon, Lakshmis step-father introduces her to a glamorous woman that tells Lakshmi she will take her to work as a maid for a wealthy woman in the big city. Glad to be able to help, Lakshmi undertakes the long journey to India and arrives at Happiness House full of hope. Soon, she learns the unthinkable truth: she has been sold into prostitution.
A woman named Mumtaz rules the brothel with cruelty and cunning. She tells Lakshmi that she is trapped there until she can pay off her familys debt, then cheats Lakshmi of her meager earnings so that she can never leave. Lakshmis life becomes a nightmare from which she cannot escape. Still, she lives by her mothers words: "Simply to endure is to triumph." Gradually, she forms friendships with the other girls that enable her to survive in this terrifying world. She befriends a young boy, Harish, the son of one of the prostitutes. He attends school and works fetching tea for the women and their clients. Harish begins to teach Lakshmi how to read and speak English. Lakshmi is profoundly moved when he buys her a pencil to teach her how to write. They form a deep friendship. When a man posing as a client comes to the brothel to rescue girls, Lakshmi regains a sense of hope. Soon the day comes when she must make a decision. Will she risk everything even her life and freedom to help her friends who kept her going? In the end, she makes a powerful choice. It is both cathartic and uplifting.