Synopses & Reviews
Every now and then, we come across a novel that moves us like no other, that seems like a miracle of the imagination, and that haunts us long after the book is closed. James Levines The Blue Notebook is that kind of book. It is the story of Batuk, an Indian girl who is taken to Mumbai from the countryside and sold into prostitution by her father; the blue notebook is her diary, in which she recalls her early childhood, records her life on the Common Street, and makes up beautiful and fantastic tales about a silver-eyed leopard and a poor boy who fells a giant with a single gold coin.
How did Levine, a British-born doctor at the Mayo Clinic, manage to conjure the voice of a fifteen-year-old female Indian prostitute? It all began, he told me, when, as part of his medical research, he was interviewing homeless children on a street in Mumbai known as the Street of Cages, where child prostitutes work. A young woman writing in a notebook outside her cage caught Levines attention. The powerful image of a young prostitute engaged in the act of writing haunted him, and he himself began to write.
The Blue Notebook brings us into the life of a young woman for whom stories are not just entertainment but a means of survival. Even as the novel humanizes and addresses the devastating global issue of child prostitution, it also delivers an inspiring message about the uplifting power of words and reading-a message that is so important to hold on to, especially in difficult times. Dr. Levine is donating all his U.S. proceeds from this book to help exploited children. Batuks story can make a difference.
"Levine, a doctor at the Mayo clinic, was inspired to write this heartbreaking and terrifying novel when he was interviewing homeless children in Mumbai as part of his medical research. In the 'Street of Cages' where child prostitutes ply their trade, literally encaged by their neglectful and abusive overseers (who pocket all the profits), Levine was struck by the sight of a young girl sitting outside her cage writing in a notebook. Batuk is a 15 year old girl who was sold to Mamaki Briila by her father when she was 9. Forced to service up to ten men a day from her 'nest,' and subject to deplorable treatment by the men who pay for her services, she's even abused by the doctor who examines her; her friend Puneet, meanwhile, nearly dies after being sexually assaulted by two policemen and is castrated at the first signs of puberty. Batuk tells her story matter-of-factly, in a voice reminiscent of The Color Purple's. While painful to read, Batuk's story puts a face on the mistreatment and disregard for children worldwide, as well as a testament to the hopefulness and power of literacy. All U.S. proceeds from the book will be donated to helping exploited children." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
A haunting yet astonishingly hopeful story of a young Indian prostitute who uses writing and imagination to transcend her reality.
An unforgettable, deeply affecting tribute to the powers of imagination and the resilience of childhood, The Blue Notebook tells the story of Batuk, a precocious 15-year-old girl from rural India who was sold into sexual slavery by her father when she was nine. As she navigates the grim realities of the Common Street—a street of prostitution in Mumbai where children are kept in cages as they wait for customers to pay for sex—Batuk manages to put pen to paper, recording her private thoughts and stories in a diary. The novel is powerfully told in Batuk’s voice, through the words she writes in her journal, where she finds hope and beauty in the bleakest circumstances.
Beautifully crafted and deeply human, The Blue Notebook explores how people, in the most difficult of situations, can use storytelling to make sense of and give meaning to their lives. All of the U.S. proceeds from this novel will be donated to the International and National Centers for Missing and Exploited Children (http://www.icmec.org).
About the Author
James A. Levine, a Professor of Medicine at the Mayo clinic, is a world-renowned scientist, doctor, and reseracher. For his scientific work, Dr. Levine has regularly appeared on CNN, the BBC, the CBC, and the Discovery Channel, and has been repeatedly featured in major newspapers in the U.S. and around the world. He lives in Oronoco, Minnesota.