The Blue Notebook by James A. Levine

blue notebookThe 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 (

This is Levine’s debut novel. He is a professor of medicine at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota.

Other reviews:
Maw Books Blog
Sara at the Book Nook Club
A High and Hidden Place
The Literate Housewife
The Book Lady’s Blog
Books on the Brain

I am an Amazon Associate and receive a small commission on sales through my affiliate links.


7 responses to “The Blue Notebook by James A. Levine

  1. Such a gorgeous cover, but I don’t think I would be able to read this. Too upsetting – it’s wonderful, though, that the proceeds are being donated. Very much props to the author for that.

  2. I know this book will be upsetting, but I feel like it’s a book I must read. Great review.

  3. Great review. It was a hard book to read, wasn’t it? Heartbreaking and gutwrenching, but still powerful and beautiful. I was moved by his decision to donate the proceeds. I greatly admire him.

  4. Pingback: Words from my reading « Word Lily

  5. I didn’t recognize the title but I am familiar with the book. It’s on my list as I feel it’s an important cause to support.

  6. Pingback: Semicolon » Blog Archive » Saturday Review of Books: July 11, 2009

  7. I do agree that the subject matter covered by the book is very important and we must be willing to see what’s going on, as well as the cause Levine is supporting with the book. I just had issues with the writing itself, or more specifically, the second half of the book.

    I liked your review, and hadn’t heard of the book you mentioned.

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