The Blue Notebook, by James Levine


This is a haunting book. Just as you think it can’t get much worse, life can. This is the story, told as an autobiography through a journal of a 15 year old prostitute in Mumbai, India. We learn how she came to leave her family, how her father sold her and then her captor sold her virginity to the highest bidder. It is told through the eyes and mind of a young country girl. She calls things by nicknames to hide the horror and dispair of her life in a brothel: baking, sweet cakes, bunny mouth, students, throne, and so on. She dissociates to remove herself from her daily life. She also learns to read and write while she is in a TB clinic. This allows her an outlet from her life. Finally she is sold to one of the richest men in Mumbai as a birthday present for his son. She says when one becomes a prostitute, people stop calling you by your name. You become merely an object like a chair or a table. The writing is rich and haunting. One has to suspend belief that a girl with Batuk’s life could ever write the poetry or philosophical flights she goes on. Unfortunately, her story is only too believable. Human trafficing is still a sad part of life for many country girls in India and Thailand.

Levine, James A. (2009). The Blue Notebook. New York: Spiegel and Grau. ISBN 978-0-385-53871-9, $23.00. 206 pages.

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About KLevenson

I am Teacher Librarian at Piedmont High School in the San Francisco East Bay. I am a part time reference Librarian I for the San Francisco Public Library. I have a Masters in Library and Information Sciences from San Jose State and a Teacher Librarian credential in addition to my teaching credential in Science. My first MA was from Harvard in Archaeology. My students teach me something new every time I am with them!
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