This guide was created by Tracie Vaughn Zimmer,
a reading specialist and children’s author.
A L S O AVA I L A B L E
MY BROTHER’S KEEPER
Tr. ed. 0-7868-5171-6
Tr. ed. 0-7868-5173-2
Pbk. ed. 0-7868-5174-0
“In Cut, Patricia McCormick’s debut novel, the narrator
cuts herself in order to feel something. . . . Her second
novel, My Brother’s Keeper, cuts even more deeply.”
—New York Times Book Review
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H YP ER I O N
ABOUT THE BOOK
Lakshmi is a thirteen-year-old girl who lives with her family in a small hut on
What is Lakshmi’s life like in her Nepal mountain home? What events create the need for her to go into the city?
Discuss the vignette entitled “Everything I Need to Know Now.” What do you think of the cultural mandates that she must live by? Compare it to the vignette of the same title that appears later when she is in the city. How does it represent all the changes in her life?
Did you suspect bad intentions on the part of the “auntie” and “uncle” who escorted Lakshmi? Why do you think Lakshmi herself was not suspicious? What does this show you about her character?
What things does Lakshmi wonder about on her journey? What ordinary objects fascinate her? How does this innocence help seal her fate?
How does Mumtaz gain control over Lakshmi? What tactics does she use to own her both physically and emotionally? What punishment does she exact on girls who disobey or betray her?
Describe the other girls and women in the brothel. How do they accept or rail against their lives there? What does Lakshmi learn from them? In the end, what happens to them?
For the festival of brothers and sisters, Harish gives Lakshmi a new pencil. This small act of kindness undoes her. Why do you think this “undoes” her? How do others reach out to help one another at the brothel?
What does despair look like? How does Lakshmi prevent her own despair from destroying her hope? Is it destroyed in others? How?
What happens when Monica leaves the brothel to return to the family she has supported? Do you think Lakshmi’s own ama would treat her the same way upon her return? What about her stepfather? What makes you think so or not?
a mountain in Nepal. 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. 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. Lakshmi is sold to a brothel and is trapped there by cruelty and cunning, unable to leave until her debt is paid. Written in spare and evocative vignettes, this powerful novel renders a world that is as unimaginable as it is real, and a girl who not only survives but triumphs.
10 What was the most disturbing part of this story for you? What facts crawled under your skin and continue to haunt you? Do you think there is anything you can do to help? What?
Go to The New York Times online archives www.nytimes.com/2005/01/19/ opinion/ 19kristofcambodia.html?ex=1147233600&en=f69e12d839fa55f7&ei=5070 and read columns by Nicholas Kristof, a writer who literally bought the freedom of two prostituted girls in Cambodia and who proposes some solutions to the trafficking problem. Then write a letter to Kristof (email@example.com) or to your local paper. Visit a few anti-trafficking Web sites, such as:
www.satyamag.com/jan05/gupta.html, which includes an interview with filmmaker Ruchira Gupta, the director of The Selling of Innocents, a documentary about the marketing of women into the sex trade, or visit www.apneaap.org the Web site for Apne Aap, Gupta’s anti-trafficking...
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