Sunday, July 05, 2009


Author: James A. Levine
Genre: Fiction, Standalone
Published: 2009
Personal Rating: 4.5/5 (excellent)
Yearly Count: 81

Please Note: While being thankful for the opportunity to receive and read this ARC, I feel the need to post the blurb from its cover. However, in my opinion there is usually too much disclosed. Read at your own discretion.

From the publisher Spiegel & Grau:

"It all began, Jim Levine told me, when, as part of his research for Mayo Clinic, he was interviewing homeless kids on a famous street of prostitution in Mumbai known as the Street of Cages. A young woman writing in a notebook outside of her cage caught his attention, and he interviewed her at length. The powerful image of a young prostitute engaged in the act of writing haunted him. And his career as a novelist was born."

From the ARC cover:

A Haunting Yet astonishingly hopeful story of a young Indian prostitute who uses writing and imagination to transcend her reality.

A tribute to the powers of imagination and the resilience of childhood,
The Blue Notebook tells the story of Batuk, a precocious fifteen-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, Batuk manages to put pencil to paper, recording her private thoughts and stories in a diary. Taking us where few writers have dared to explore, The Blue Notebook is a devastating look at a global crisis. Yet it is also an unforgettable, deeply human, and beautifully crafted novel about the ability of stories to give meaning to our lives.

All of the U.S. Proceeds from this novel will be donated to the International and National Centers for Missing and Exploited Children.

WOW! What an eye-opener. The story of Batuk is absolutely heart-wrenching and deplorable. My experience reading this book was filled with cringing and gasping moments - just sickened at the possibility of this being remotely realistic. After a little bit of research (it didn't take much), I unfortunately discovered that variations of Batuk's story are not uncommon. My stomach literally flips and my skin crawls at the images left in my mind.

Interestingly enough, the story is told in a factual manner instead of from an emotional viewpoint. I was thankful for that. The facts alone were enough to trouble my heart. The dramatic, devastating events shocked me from the get-go, but without a doubt I was wide-eyed by page 4. The book is filled with explicit acts of violence and is hard to believe that it really happens. Even though, the subject is beyond tough, the author tells the story well, but leaves an ambiguous ending. Unfortunately, that did not leave me satisfied. Although, throughout the book - I was glued.

I applaud James A. Levine for addressing such a brutal subject - one that has to come to the surface. Also, my heart is hopeful that more awareness will create more action. Thank you, James for donating all the US proceeds of this book to the International and National Centers for Missing and Exploited Children to help in that process. I respect your work.

Thank you, Cindy, from Spiegel & Grau, for sending me this ARC. It has left a lasting impression on me. The book will be released on July 7, 2009.


  1. I'm not sure that I can handle the explicit violence in this book. It does sound like it brings a very serious issue to light and kudos to the author for donating proceeds to charity.

  2. Goodness, just reading your review breaks my heart. Like Bonnie, I'm not sure if I could handle the book, especially with all the emphasis you put on how graphic it is. Although, since it's an important topic, maybe I'll just have to work myself up to it. Great review, Joy.

  3. I know this will be a difficult book to read, but I also know it's one I need to read so I will tackle it one day.

  4. I am really looking forward to reading this one. I've heard it is a difficult subject matter. It's interesting that the author wrote it more fro ma matter of fact viewpoint rather than an emotional one. I can definitely see why that would be the best way to go. Thanks for the great review, Joy.

  5. I will read this one, too. I think I need to be jostled once in awhile from my place of comfort and freedoms to realize that not all enjoy these luxuries. Awareness is the only way we will know that something needs to be done outside of ourselves. My heart breaks to think about so many and their horrendous suffering.

    Thanks for such a good review, Joy. And for bringing this book to my attention.

  6. I was glad to see the high rating you gave this book. I've heard it is a difficult read but it's in my tbr pile and it's one I really do want to read. I'll be back to read your review more closely once I've read it.

  7. I just quickly skimmed your review as I have this waiting to be read soon but I caught enough to tell you recommend it. That's good to know! I'm looking forward to this even though I know it's going to be a hard read.

  8. Wow! As Booklogged wrote, "I think I need to be jostled once in awhile from my place of comfort and freedoms to realize that not all enjoy these luxuries. Awareness is the only way we will know that something needs to be done outside of ourselves." This sounds like a difficult, yet important book to read. Do you think it would be a good book club selection? I wonder if I could get everyone to read it...

  9. I really thought this book was excellent (painful subject, but so good). Great review

  10. Bonnie ~ I was really touched when I read that he was donating the proceeds.

    Trish ~ The good news is that even though it is very graphic and just plain awful - there isn't much emotion or reaction from Batuk. There is a detachment there.

    Bermudaonion ~ It is extremely difficult, but I'm glad I read it.

    Literary Feline ~ I would have been an absolute mess if it had the emotions one would expect.

  11. Great review! I've had this on my list of books to read. One of my student assistants recently went to Cambodia to work with some girls there who have been rescued from the sex trade (slavery really). It is so heartbreaking to hear about the situations these girls have come from.

  12. Booklogged ~ As difficult as it was to read, I'm glad I did. I have continued to talk about it with friends and family because it has stayed on my mind.

    Dar ~ Difficult, indeed. I'll be watching for your review.

    Nicola ~ It's a powerful read and one that I don't think you'll forget too soon.

    Les ~ Yes, it's important. It's one thing to be aware of something, but another to hear/read a story about it. This is fiction, but it's based on truth - so that's close enough.

    As for a book club selection, I tend to think it would not be a good choice. Mainly because I don't think there would be any diversity in the members' reactions. You will all be devastated - what's to discuss? However, if you would want to talk about the children's lives in general or share the ugly thoughts (which was necessary for me), then that would work. I've been talking about it since I began it, but it's been to people who have not read it. That's just my opinion. It may turn out to be a fabulous choice if you decide to go ahead - everybody's different.

    Diane ~ "Painful subject" - that's for sure! Thankfully it was written without a lot of emotion. The reader provides their own and that's plenty.

    Terri B. ~ I know someone that has gone to Colombia and walked through the section - just deplorable! And, yes, it is slavery.


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I hope you have a great day and ...
Happy Reading!