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The Blue Notebook: A Novel Paperback – Jul 6 2010

4.6 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Spiegel & Grau (July 6 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385528728
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385528726
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 1.5 x 20.1 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 118 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #290,854 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description


Praise for The Blue Notebook

The Blue Notebook is a deeply moving story and a searing reminder of the resilience of the human spirit. It is a tribute to how writing can give meaning and help one transcend even the most harrowing circumstances. The voice of Batuk, the unforgettable child prostitute heroine, will stay with the reader a long, long time.”—Khaled Hosseini, author of The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns

“James A. Levine's The Blue Notebook tugged at my heart and opened my eyes. Levine's fictional protagonist, Batuk, stands shoulder to shoulder with the iconic Anne Frank, another brave young girl whose innocence was annihilated but whose spirit prevailed and whose gift to the world was the written testimony she left behind. To read The Blue Notebook is to bear witness, something we must do if we are to create a world that rejects the exploitation of children and creates a world where they can be safe.” —Wally Lamb, author of The Hour I First Believed

From the Hardcover edition.

About the Author

James A. Levine, a professor of medicine at the Mayo Clinic, is a world-renowned scientist, doctor, and researcher. He lives in Oronoco, Minnesota.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

By Janet B TOP 500 REVIEWER on March 25 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
James A. Levine is a Professor of Medicine at the Mayo Clinic, a world renowned Scientist, Doctor and Researcher. When in India, investigating child labor, he walked down the famed Street of Cages in Mumbai. This is one of the central areas for the estimated half-million child prostitutes. Before leaving the street, he saw a fifteen year old girl, wearing a pink sari, writing in a Blue Notebook. The image of the girl in the pink sari haunted him so that he was compelled to write The Blue Notebook. This book is a novel.

In order to pay off family debts, Batuk's father brings her to Mumbai, India and sells her to Master Gahil, a sex trader. He, in turn, sells Batuk to the highest bidder looking for a young virgin. She is only nine years old at the time. Master Gahil then sends her to "The Orphanage." When she is fifteen years old, she is put to work as a prostitute on the Common Street in Mumbai. She is selling "sweet-cake", another term for sexual intercourse. Her boss is a hardened old hag by the name of Mamaki Briila. She is called Hippopotamus by the prostitutes. Batuk is a part of a group of five girls and one boy named Puneet, who becomes her best friend. She ends up in a cage, the size of a toilet servicing about ten men a day in exchange for food and a bed. Batuk's life consists of rape, violence and starvation. She is abused in every unimaginable way. Her best friend Puneet was violently raped by two Police Officers, which left him unable to work. When his health improves, he is forced back to work. Puneet is then sent away to be castrated before reaching puberty. When Puneet returns he is quite depressed. Batuk decides to write a fantasy story especially for him to cheer him up.
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Format: Paperback
My heart bled while reading this book. Unbelievable that a male author can become a 15 year old prostitute from the slums of mumbai. Wrote in a gut wrenching matter of fact way, you can feel how the character needed to be detached emotionally in order to depict all that had happened to her. The writer made us believe such a character exists and I expected to read at the end what eventually happened to Batuk, but one can only assume after reading the last few pages. This book is not for the weak of heart and seems to depict the harsh realities of poverty stricken families who sometimes have no choice. The harshness of life for orphans and children sold into prostitution at very early ages makes us be so thankful for what we have and at the same time, I felt very helpless when i finished. So much happens to the innocent that we don't have control over. THis is a definite must read and it kept me rivoted until the very end. I'll never forget the character "Batuk" and days after reading the book, still think about her.
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By Nicola Mansfield HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on Aug. 7 2009
Format: Hardcover
Reason for Reading: Honestly, I simply felt compelled to read this, even though it's not my usual type of reading. I do however enjoy books written in diary format, books with an Indian viewpoint and books written from a child's point of view.

Comments: This is a heart wrenching book to read. Set in modern India, the story of a nine-year-old girl who is sold by her loving father into prostitution (to pay off his debts) and her presented to us in the first person through her diaries. We are given her story from her present timeline at the age of fifteen as well as from her past as she tells how she came to be in her present circumstances, until past meets present and we only can go forward with her.

This book is going to be a hard read for some people. A child prostitute leads a brutal life and the author leaves no stone unturned nor holds back on any details. Yet, Batuk, the main character, is many things. She is a victim, she is a part of her world, she is a survivor, she is an innocent child, she can be devious, she can experience pure child-like joy and she experiences terror no child should ever have. She is a character that the reader feels both great outrage and compassion for and also admires for her own strength and spirit.

One thing that really struck me as I read was how amazingly real the voice of the fifteen-year-old girl is, while realizing that the book is written by a man. For a man to project this teen's feminine multi-layered personality so beautifully is a sign of a brilliant author. I look forward to his next novel.

The only thing that disappoints me some is the ambiguous ending. The only thing that stops me from giving a 5* rating. We are left to sort things out for ourselves and decide what happened.
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By Karoline TOP 1000 REVIEWER on Sept. 6 2009
Format: Hardcover
The Blue Notebook by James Levine is told in the point of view of Batuk, a young girl who has been sold into prostitution by her father. From then on, she works through several places, including the streets of Mumbai, then being bought from place to place where her final place ends up being in some sort of hotel.

It's a hard read. Although being only two hundred pages, it is an account in extreme graphic detail of Batuk's life after being sold by her father. She does not skimp away the grisly details that happens to her and how she is meant to please her clients. The only light hearted moments I get are when she shares a laugh with her friend Puneet and how they make fun of the "Hippopotamus". I thought they were so cute together but, even that little bit of happiness fades as Batuk is passed on to another place to do her work.

My heart went out for Batuk. You see her innocence shatter and how she narrates the entire story you don't hear much emotion, it's almost as you can hear a flat voice through the diary entries. It's a bleak and depressing read but it probably is a very realistic account of what happens out there to child prostitutes anywhere in the world.

There are only a few things I didn't agree with in this book. I'm not for flowery poetry writing and mini stories and there's a few parts of that in this story. I mostly skipped it by as I didn't have much patience for that. I don't really understand how you can be that literate when you've only learned to read and write at a missionary hospital but that's just my opinion. Second, the ending was very vague. However, if you really think about it, no one in this world really cares where a prostitute ends up, therefore the ending shouldn't matter.
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