13-year-old Lakshmi lives an ordinary life in Nepal, going to school and thinking of the boy she is to marry.
Then her gambling-addicted stepfather sells her into prostitution in India.
Refusing to be with men, she is beaten and starved until she gives in.
“In between, men come./They crush my bones with their weight./They split me open./Then they disappear. I hurt./I am torn and bleeding where the men have been”.
She is told that if she works off her family’s debt, she can leave, but she soon discovers that this is virtually impossible.
When a boy who runs errands for the girls and their clients begins to teach her to read, she feels a bit more alive, remembering what it feels like to be the number one girl in class again.
When an American comes to the brothel to rescue girls, Lakshmi finally gets a sense of hope.