The Blue Notebook, by James A Levine,
On sale 7/7/09
Batuk is a 15 year old prostitute on the Common Street of Mumbai, India. At only 9 years of age she was sold into slavery by her family to pay off their large debts. Having learned how to read and write at a Missionary hospital when she was 6, Batuk uses these skills to chronicle her life at the brothel, as well as create a world of fantastic and allegorical stories that help her mentally cope with her destitute situation.
James A Levine is a gifted author, and I am actually very angry at him for that, since I could not put this book down, despite the scenes that made me cry and want to shout and scream in anger. Not only does Levine indeed humanize the global issue of child prostitution, he also manages to send an inspirational message about the power of storytelling and the written word. In some ways this book reminded me of Number the Stars by Lois Lowry. In Number the Stars, Annemarie uses fairy tale stories, such as Little Red Riding Hood among others, to help calm her fears and fill her with the courage needed to be support of her family and her friends. In The Blue Notebook, Batuk uses stories to dilute the despair of her life, to chronicle her life, and to validate her existence. The world of Batuk is funny, insightful and direct. I think anyone who reads this book will learn a little about the realities of humanity, and how it is found in the most unlikely of places.
All of Levine’s US royalties for this title will be donated to the International Center for Missing and Exploited Children (www.wicmec.org) and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (www.missingkids.com). Although I received this book for free for review, I will most certainly go out and buy my own copy to help support this cause and do what I can to try and end child slavery, exploitation and prostitution.The Blue Notebook by James A Levine Spiegel & Grau, 2009 – July 7th, 2009 ISBN 0385528719 224 pages