The Blue Notebook: A Novel by James A. Levine (Spiegel & Grau, July 7, 2009), 224 pages
The Blue Notebook is the life story of Batuk, a 15-year-old prostitute in Mumbai, India. Naturally, the story is tragic, heart-wrenching. Batuk acquires a pencil and charms a boy into bringing her a little blue notebook, and she begins writing her story. The writing is simple but beautiful.
Batuk is 9 years old when her parents throw her a farewell party before her father takes her to the city, where she begins her new life. She’s never told what will happen or why this path was chosen for her.
It’s a hard book to read, but it tells an important story. We mustn’t close our eyes.
While reading this book I was constantly reminded of a nonfiction book I read a few years ago. True Grit: Women Taking on the World, for God’s Sake by Deborah Meroff is full of heartbreaking stats of how women are wronged the world over. But in addition, it also relays true stories of people making a difference in these situations, as well as having several appendices of ways to stay informed and ways to help. This 2004 book starts its On the Streets section with this: “There are probably over 100 million children working on the streets. Approximately 1 million more are forced into the sex trade worldwide every year. The average age keeps decreasing and even very small girls and babies are involved.”
All of the U.S. proceeds from Levine’s novel will be donated to the International and National Centers for Missing and Exploited Children (http://www.icmec.org).
This is Levine’s debut novel. He is a professor of medicine at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota.
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