The Blue Notebook by James A. Levine is the fictional tale of a child prostitute. Fifteen-year-old Batuk has spent six years as a sex slave, living in a cage, in Mumbai after being sold by her father. Besides her friendship with another sex slave, a boy named Puneet, which can't last, all that Batuk has for herself is a pencil and a blue notebook for writing her story.
Based on Mayo Clinic-affiliated Levine's experiences while traveling with a United Nations-sponsored group in India, Batuk's story is riveting, haunting, and presented in horrifyingly graphic detail. Graphic to the point that I felt nauseous, yet told with a cool, almost clinical precision in the first person, this book will stay with me forever.
Here's a clip from an article in Twin Cities Daily Planet
It took Levine only 58 days to finish his first book. “Writing my first novel was not difficult,” says Levine. “I love writing—I get lost in it.” Despite his love of writing, he didn’t write The Blue Notebook simply because he wanted to write a book. “The point of this book,” says Levine, “wasn’t to write a book. The point is to create a movement.”
With the Blue Notebook, Levine is indeed creating a movement. His publisher plans to publish the book in 17 countries, enabling Batuk’s voice to be heard across the globe. Additionally, Levine isn’t taking a penny from the book’s U.S. proceeds. He’s donating every dime to help exploited children.
“I don’t want this book to raise awareness of child prostitution,” says Levine. “This book demands something more. We need to end child prostitution.”
My overall personal rating of The Blue Notebook is an A, as much for subject matter as for writing style and plot.