I was thrilled to receive an advance reader copy of the The Blue Notebook: A Novel; by James A Levine from Random House recently. Scheduled for a
In this story fifteen year old Batuk who lives in rural
Butuk expresses her thoughts (rarely her emotions) about the last six years of her life using a “blue notebook”, pencil and pen, which she hides in a slit in her mattress in the cell that she calls her “nest”. There she lives with four other exploited children who are kept under tight reigns.
Why did her father who seemed to care about her, sell her? We never really learn the reason, but one can only assume it was monetary. Yet her family had a farewell feast for her prior to her father driving her from the village to face her horrible future in Mumbai. It is also unclear where the “blue notebook” came from.
The story is told over a period of six years. The rapes, and beating were very hard to read about, and I also found it disgusting when I learned about how even babies in India were exploited. Babies are valued for a black market beggar network, as a beggar with a baby earns five times as much as a baby-less beggar; deformed children earn even more. Despite the atrocities described in this book, I found myself unable to put it down and read it in one sitting today. As painful as this book may be for some people, it is an important story. It was very well written, and is highly recommended.
Although the story is fiction, the author James Levine, a doctor, as part of his medical research began interviewing homeless children in Mumbai where child prostitutes were often forced to work. One of these young women surprisingly was writing in a notebook, and this act which seemed so out of place inspired Levine to write this story.
Mr. Levine is donating all of the
This book is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
RATING - 5/5 - Completed - 5/31/09
Where From: My Stacks