Tuesday

The Blue Notebook by James A. Levine

Batuk is a 15 year-old Indian girl that was sold into prostitution at the age of 9 by her father (we never really find out the reason why, but there is a reference to the father having lost everything). The Blue Notebook is a journal written by Batuk in between rounds of “making sweet-cake” with her customers. In this journal she tells us of her life prior to being sold - what it was like living by the river, her family, her bout with TB and how she was taught to read and write by the nurses and priest at the ministry where she stayed to recover, her virginity being sold to the highest bidder, and what it is like to live in a cage - making sweet-cake up to 10 times a day with different “bakers”. In the second half of the book she is once again sold- this time to a wealthy businessman named Bubba so that she can help prepare his son to be a husband.

This novel offers a very interesting and real insight into India's prostitution ring, particularly the role played by children. In a setting where children are kept in cages while they wait for men to have sex with them, Batuk writes to save her sanity.

My only complaint would be that as you read Batuk’s entries you feel as if you are reading the thoughts of a much older person than a 15 year old girl. Then again I am sure that leading the life that she is living ages you much faster than the average teen.

For some reason I took a bit longer than usual to read this book. Although it’s not a very long book, it would affect me in such a way that I had to keep putting it down. I found the content to be a bit difficult to read at times and it left me feeling raw, emotional and even hurt for Batuk. This is one of the those books that you can’t help but ponder long after you have read the last page. It is masterfully written, well researched, and it delivers you right into the heart of Mumbai with it’s vivid descriptions of the city and its people. Overall, this is a story of a young girl trapped in a situation she cannot control yet even through the unfairness of it all she is quite brave in her actions - that alone is inspiring.

I highly recommend this book as long as you can stomach it's content. Not to mention, your purchase will go to a good cause as the author is donating 100% of the U.S. proceeds from his novel to the International and National Centers for Missing and Exploited Children (http://www.icmec.org). This title will be released July 7.

6 comments:

Tea said...

Sounds good. Your review is really good.

Dar said...

Hmmmm, I have this one on my shelf. I hope I'll be able to read it. It sounds very emotional.

Beth F said...

I have this one on my pile and I'm really looking forward to it.

Serena said...

Great review....I've seen this one all over the place...

psst...I gave you an award here: http://www.savvyverseandwit.com/2009/04/lovely-savvy-verse-wit.html

Stephanie said...

I have this book also and can't wait to read it. Thanks for the review!

M. said...

The only thing I would love to know is how the ending really did happen and who is the hat man? is it really death taking a toll on her?

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