Title: The Blue Notebook
Author: James Levine
Release Date: July 7, 2009
Publisher: Spiegel & Grau
Genre: Literary Fiction, Multicultural Fiction, Contemporary Fiction
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
From the publisher’s website:
An unforgettable, deeply affecting tribute to the powers of imagination and the resilience of childhood, The Blue Notebook tells the story of Batuk, a precocious 15-year-old girl from rural India who was sold into sexual slavery by her father when she was nine. As she navigates the grim realities of the Common Street—a street of prostitution in Mumbai where children are kept in cages as they wait for customers to pay for sex—Batuk manages to put pen to paper, recording her private thoughts and stories in a diary. The novel is powerfully told in Batuk’s voice, through the words she writes in her journal, where she finds hope and beauty in the bleakest circumstances.
Beautifully crafted and deeply human, The Blue Notebook explores how people, in the most difficult of situations, can use storytelling to make sense of and give meaning to their lives. All of the U.S. proceeds from this novel will be donated to the International and National Centers for Missing and Exploited Children (http://www.icmec.org).
I was sure I wanted to read The Blue Notebook as soon as I first heard about it. All I really knew was that it was about a young Indian prostitute, but that was enough for me. I was aware that it would be beautiful as well as tragic, and that it would move me. I was definitely right; The Blue Notebook is a gorgeously written novel that is completely heartbreaking.
I’m not going to lie: The Blue Notebook is a very difficult novel to read. I found myself close to tears while reading it. It has such a strong emotional impact. The idea of a child being sold into prostitution is horrible, yet it’s something that happens in today’s world. I know a lot of people avoid “heavy” novels because they want to be lifted up by their reading, not dragged down . However, this is one of those books that I think is very important to read.
The bright spot in The Blue Notebook is Levine’s prose. It is a striking novel, beautifully written. Each horrific event in it is cloaked in amazing prose. This makes the book very easy to read, despite the difficult subject matter. I can’t praise James Levine’s writing ability highly enough.
Batuk is a wonderful narrator, though it is difficult to believe that the words in the novel are hers, simply because of their sophistication. Still, she is such a sympathetic character. She has seen so much of the world, of its ugliness and brutality, yet there is hope in her character. She somehow still seems innocent. It’s an amazing dichotomy that exists within a character that should be simple, but is anything but. I loved the way she was written and her exuberant voice.
The Blue Notebook is a heartbreaking novel. While it is difficult to read, it is totally and completely worth it. Levine’s beautiful prose, the wonderful narrator, and the compelling story serve to make an amazing read that will stick with you for a long time.
Thank you to the publisher for sending me this book to review.