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But this compelling account of a nine-year-old girl sold by her own father into sex slavery in India is an emotional powerhouse. James A. Levine, a professor of medicine at the Mayo Clinic, is the gifted author. Stopping to chat, he discovered she was writing about her frightening life as a sex slave. He felt moved to write a novel based on her life and the dark global problem she not only lives, but symbolizes.

Through all that she suffers she writes with intense imagination and ev I always enjoy reading books about people who overcome deep struggles and harsh circumstances, and so I was really drawn into this book. Through all that she suffers she writes with intense imagination and even optimism. When she writes about her 'work' she does it in such a lush, childlike way that it could be less or more disturbing at times. Less disturbing because it seemed less harsh, but more disturbing because it's obvious in her writing that she's still just a child.

What I liked: This book gave a very real idea of what kids in this situation face, and it really makes you think about what you can do to help. All the proceeds from the book are going to be used to help exploited children, that was definitely a plus. What I disliked: I had a hard time with certain sections because I feel there is a fine line between pornographic stories and description of brutal acts. I had a really hard time reading it without contemplating whether some would find these scenes titillating.

The writing is almost too 'pretty' for some of the horrible things that happen. I felt like for a long section the book was just a series of sexual encounters, and they described what happened a little too vividly. I have the stomach for it but I felt like the detail was a drawback and since Batuk is just a child, I felt like it should have been a little more tasteful. I don't want them to make the facts less harsh, these things happen, but the way it was described was a little too sensual.

View all 4 comments. Jul 04, Mary rated it really liked it Shelves: adult-books. This is definitely not a book for children. It covers some of the same ground as the movie Slumdog Millionaire. Batuk was 9 when her father sold her into prostitution in Mumbai. She is "nested" on the Common Street, where Mamaki Briila oversees the girls and one boy, Puneet, who is Batuk's good friend. The story begins as Batuk is She keeps writings of her days, because she was taught to read and write in the hospital where she spent months recovering from TB, and because one of the men who This is definitely not a book for children.

She keeps writings of her days, because she was taught to read and write in the hospital where she spent months recovering from TB, and because one of the men who visits her gives her a pencil.

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After a while, Batuk is purchased by a businessman, Bubba, for his son, Iftikhar, and taken to a hotel. She stays for several days in the Tiger Suite, cared for by Kita, raped by the doctor who examines her, and beaten badly by Iftikhar. One night he has a party with 3 friends, some of whom are politically connected, and when Batuk's writings are discovered and read aloud, things get out of hand. This book is both hopeless and hopeful. Batuk escapes the reality of her situation in writing and in her imagination, and that seems to carry the reader along as well.

Sometimes though, it seems almost too poetic - not gritty enough to be realistic. Nov 03, Lydia Presley rated it liked it Shelves: india , fiction. What a horrifying story. From the book jacket, the story of how this book was written is told. Levine, a doctor at the Mayo Clinic, was interviewing homeless children on a street in Mumbai where the child prostitutes work. A young woman was writing in a notebook outside of her cage. This captured his attention and, in turn, resulted in this book.

The imagery is horrifying - too much so, in my opinion.

The Blue Notebook by James A. Levine

I understand that the author was trying to impress upon his readers the gravity and horror of th What a horrifying story. I understand that the author was trying to impress upon his readers the gravity and horror of the situation, but there was too much information divulged. The readers of this book are, I would hope, intelligent enough to understand what is happening without our hand being held through it all.

The actual story of the girl was heart-breaking. In a world where happy endings just don't happen all that often, this is a stark reminder of that. The author has done a good deed in donating all his U. May 22, Stephanie rated it really liked it. I won an advanced copy of this book and received it in the mail today. I read the book in one sitting - no joke. I was riveted by the story.

Batuk, a nine-year old Indian girl, is sold into sex slavery. At fifteen, she understands her lot in life, but believes in something more Despite the abuses at so many hands, she is resilient and hopeful. Beautifully heartbreaking Well-crafted, although wanted more ans I won an advanced copy of this book and received it in the mail today.

Well-crafted, although wanted more answers at the end. I will say that I had to suspend a certain reality to believe that a 15 year old girl with no real formal education except during her extended stay in a hospital while being treated for TB could write so well, but the story made me willing to do it.

Sep 13, Charlaralotte rated it it was ok Shelves: read-in Upset with myself that I was unable to finish this book, but found it getting slightly prurient or my interpretation of it getting that way. Am of course all for the goal of the book: to expose the horrible conditions and hardships of children sold into prostitution in India. Absolutely terrible, heinous crimes being committed. Also appreciated author's efforts to show hidden, undaunted strength of one girl. Just got a bit queasy with the metaphorical descriptions of "making sweetcakes" with c Upset with myself that I was unable to finish this book, but found it getting slightly prurient or my interpretation of it getting that way.

Just got a bit queasy with the metaphorical descriptions of "making sweetcakes" with clients. Fine line between pornographic stories and description of brutal acts. Found it difficult to read without contemplating whether some would find these scenes titillating. Perhaps is an issue with any detailed accounts of sex crimes. Jun 07, Garrett Marshall rated it it was amazing. The population of chilliwack goes "missing" every year in india. India needs to have sanctions and pressure put on it to take responsibility for these countless nameless thousands who are the victims of a culture who put no value other then financial on the lives of women.

Its beautifully composed and extreamly enlightening. Dec 27, Christie rated it liked it. I live in a nice house; I have a car; I have a job; my children are healthy and go to school wearing the clothes they want, with full bellies. They sleep in warm beds. They are safe and loved. Batuk is just nine when her beloved father sells her to Master Gahil. I got the sense that he was strapped for cash and Batuk was his only asset. She is literate because she spent several weeks in a TB hospital as a child and a kind nurse taught her to read and write.

She commits her story to the pages of a blue notebook and this is how the reader comes to know her story. And so I look within myself and assemble myself in words. I take the words that are my thoughts and dreams and hide them behind the dark shadow of my kidney. I compress my need for love into words and hide that as a drop of blackness next to my liver it will be safe there until I need it.

James Levine is actually a professor of medicine and a respected scientist and researcher. Levine and the book here. There is really no reprieve for her or the reader but to be fair — why should we come out of this experience unscathed? The truth is horrific. A February UN report indicated that India was the most dangerous place in the world to be born a girl. Not only are girls less desirable to their families, extreme poverty often leads them to a life of prostitution.

If you are interested in helping the children of India there are several charitable organizations, including HOPE. Apr 15, Nicole Bonia rated it it was amazing. Batuk is a fifteen-year-old girl living in a brothel on Common Street in Mumbai, India. Her vivid imagination and knack for storytelling lead her to paint a world of cheerful descriptions of the ragged and decrepit room that she describes as an elaborately painted and decorated nest or cage Batuk is a fifteen-year-old girl living in a brothel on Common Street in Mumbai, India.

Her vivid imagination and knack for storytelling lead her to paint a world of cheerful descriptions of the ragged and decrepit room that she describes as an elaborately painted and decorated nest or cage and the sexual acts that she is forced to endure is misleadingly called making sweet cakes. Over the course of the novel Batuk tells the story of how she was sold by her father into prostitution as a nine-year-old to pay off unspecified family debts.

The proprietor of the brothel, Mamaki Briilla, drops a pencil and instead of returning it Batuk steals and hides it so that she can recount her early life, and the last day that she saw the family and the father she still misses after six years. James Levine does an amazing job getting us into the head of Batuk. Though she has grown up with a family and has had to face the betrayal of those closest to her she tries to make the best of it and always see the beauty in the life despite her horrific circumstances.

Batuk weaves a world of beauty and exquisite stories out of the every day tragedy that is her life. She creates a world that you want to believe in for her sake though it makes the crushing reality that she faces that much more difficult and painful to witness. The subject matter is dark and movingly in contrast to the light and engaging way that Batuk presents her narrative. Aug 17, Aarti rated it it was amazing. Upton Sinclair wrote a painfully graphic book about the horrors of Chicago's meat-packing district, The Jungle.

He later famously said, "I aimed at the public's heart, and by accident I hit it in the stomach. Levine does much the same in his book, The Blue Notebook. This is one of the most difficult and painful books I have ever read. Batuk writes in a beautifully lyrical voice, and so it is all the more jarring when she turns from her happy and playful thoughts and dreams to the graphic det Upton Sinclair wrote a painfully graphic book about the horrors of Chicago's meat-packing district, The Jungle. Batuk writes in a beautifully lyrical voice, and so it is all the more jarring when she turns from her happy and playful thoughts and dreams to the graphic details that form the stark reality of her life.

I do not have a favorite quote from this book. It is by turns gorgeous and terrifying. There were pages that made me shudder and I admit that there were at least two pages that I was unable to finish reading. I had to skip ahead. This is not a book to read on the train or to wile away a spare half hour. I was close to tears on my morning commute yesterday. Levine's book is calculated to reach you in that manner. It is written almost as a series of inter-related vignettes more than as a novel. A girl from rural India who, by chance, learns how to read.

The apple of her father's eye, who is then sold to a stranger.


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A seasoned prostitute on the Common Street of Mumbai, taking spare moments to write about the voices of old trees and wise tigers. A poor young woman who dreams about expensive and gorgeous hats. A magical story about the silver-eyed snow leopard, and the power that someone's hope can save them from a miserable situation. All US proceeds from this book will be donated to charity. It is not an easy book to read.

But while some books are read for pleasure, others are read to gain an understanding of our world. This book is in the latter category.

The Blue Notebook

Just as Sinclair did in The Jungle, Levine will aim for your heart and hit you in the gut. This book is part of my reading challenge This book is written as a diary where the reader follows Batuk, a fifteen year old Indian girl who is sold into prostitution by her father in Mumbai. This book is her diary where she tells her story from her early childhood to the day she becomes a prostitute.

It was a hard book to read. The things that Batuk have to endure is heartbreaking. But somewhere in your mind you know this kind of life exist in reality. The story is well told, but the writing is arguable. James A. Levine is trying to sound like a fifteen year old girl and in my opinion he fails. Sometimes she is very bright and grown-up and other time she sounds more childish and a bit stupid.

The choice of words she Levine uses to describe her private part is also confusing. In her world childish way of thinking is quickly destroyed and innocence is gone by a second. More book reviews here: Elzas book reviews Nov 25, Sandy rated it really liked it Shelves: india , audio.

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This was a bitter heart-wrenching modern day tale The author of the Kite Runner aptly reviewed this book by saying it is "a deeply moving story and a searing reminder of the resilience of the human spirit. She does not judge it bad or good relative to our view Men have brutalized women and children throughout the history of mankind. Those of us living in 'the free' world often have some blithely naive notion these things really don't happen, they are just the things of nightmares Good job Mr. Sep 05, Lidija rated it it was amazing.

This book was extremely troubling for me, especially during the sections where told of her family selling her into prostitution and where she was initiated into the life. She was only nine years old and I could not separate my daughters from Batuk during those scenes, no matter how hard I tried. I cannot imagine getting to the point where I would sell them into such a life. I cannot fathom my husband taking her on such a trip and leaving her there. I would walk the streets myself 24 hours a day first.

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I would tear my own heart out first. Yet I know that this is a luxury afforded me because I live where I live and have a job that is more than capable of supporting our family, even in these rough economic times. The Blue Notebook is well written and in many parts quite lyrical. The way in which she describes her work made absolute sense to me. From the beginning she associates what she does with sweet cakes and all humans play tricks with language to make the harshness of our realities more palatable.

There are times where I felt the narrator came off as too well educated, even after her ability to read and write were explained. It is true that living such a life would certainly force a young girl to grow up quickly, but there is a difference between growing up and having such a sophisticated thought processes. I contacted some of my reading friends, who encouraged me to finish it.

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A novel that has the power to affect the reader in this way is too important to be left unread. I picked it back up after a couple of hours and finished it before I went to sleep that night. The Blue Notebook is a powerful novel. Now that Batuk is a part of me, I can no longer look the other way.


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  4. In The Blue Notebook , James Levine does more than just sheds light on what is happening in this world. To pre-order this novel, which will be published on July 7, , click here. It reminded me a bit of the documentary that won an Oscar a few years ago called Born Into Brothels. Awesome movie, heartbreaking circumstances. Great review, as always! Wordless Wednesday. I am starting this one in a few days. I think this one would be especially hard for anyone with kids. I imagine this will be a troubling book to read, but I think it is important for us to be aware of the things — good and bad — that are going on in the world around us.

    Great review.