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The Blue Notebook

3.68 of 5 stars 3.68  ·  rating details  ·  2,294 ratings  ·  560 reviews
An unforgettable, deeply affecting debut novel, The Blue Notebook tells the story of Batuk, a precocious fifteen-year-old girl from rural India who is sold into sexual slavery by her father. As she navigates the grim realities of Mumbai’s Common Street, Batuk manages to put pen to paper, recording her private thoughts and writing fantastic tales that help her transcend her...more
Paperback, 240 pages
Published July 6th 2010 by Spiegel & Grau (first published January 1st 2009)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Tea Jovanović
Džejms Levin, lekar s klinike Mejo, dobio je inspiraciju da napiše ovaj potresan i zastrašujući roman razgovarajući s decom beskućnicima u Mumbaiju, u okviru svog medicinskog istraživanja. U Ulici kaveza, gde su deca prostitutke bukvalno zatvorena u kaveze (a njihovi „nadzornici“ ih zlostavljaju i ubiru novac od njih), Levina je lecnuo prizor jedne devojčice koja je sedela ispred svog kaveza i pisala nešto u beležnicu.
Nezaboravan, upečatljiv roman Plava beležnica pripoveda priču o Batuk, petnaes...more
Lynn G.
This is not a pretty book about a pretty topic. It is a gritty, unsentimental view of the horror that is child sex slavery/prostitution in Mumbai, India, although it could be set anywhere in modern India and Southeast Asia.

Batuk, the 15 year old protagonist who was sold into sex slavery by her father when she was only 9, has devised means by which she can dissociate from her life in order to survive. One is by way of a rich fantasy life into which she escapes. The other is through her own words...more
The Blue Notebook was written by a British-born doctor from the Mayo Clinic, Dr. James Levine. As part of his medical research, he interviewed homeless children in Mumbai. This book came from those interviews, the main character is inspired by one small girl sitting outside her cage writing in a notebook. I was very skeptical of an author who writes from a place of incredible amount of privilege in the voice of an extremely marginalized protagonist, but I suspended judgement until after I read i...more
“You can never fully straighten bent metal; you can only make it less bent.”

Sometimes when I read a book that is particularly affecting, I refer to it as “life altering.” But when I refer to The Blue Notebook as life altering, it isn’t to remark of its genius rendition, sumptuous prose, or eerily strong characterization. Simply put; The Blue Notebook by James Levine so thoroughly disturbed me, it left me haunted. I think we all know that the sickening practice of child sex slavery occurs, and we...more
Ismail Elshareef
Batuk, the protagonist, was a real child prostitute living in Mumbai, India, and this book is her journal, translated into flawless and engrossing prose by Dr. Levine.

I found it very hard to finish this book, but thankfully, it's only 200 pages. I had to skim most of it for the vivid descriptions of child rape, sexual mutilation and unspeakable torture were just a bit much to visualize. At times, especially towards the end, I had to put the book down to catch my breath!

Reading this story will...more
Aug 17, 2009 Andrew rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: no-one
I'm one of the few apparently who really didn't like this novel. I thought the plot overly contrived and shallow, too specific to the protagonist's view point (narration is first person, something I don't think works when you are trying for a novel which is hoping for a "people are resilient" feel, as espoused in the blurb). Yes, child prostitution is rife over there, class society is unfair, people are mean, power corrupts, and everyone gets by in the best way they can... I'm not learning anyth...more
Unlike many of the reviewers here, I WAS able to put the book down after starting it and the hard part for me was picking it back up. It was a very difficult book for me to finish because everything that happens to Batuk is just so WRONG! I literally had to force myself to finish the book - I did so because I wanted to know that everything would turn out okay for her - I stayed up until the wee hours of the morning to finish it. As the mother of a 9 and 13 year old, I was horrified, disgusted, d...more
Diane S.
3.5 A read that should stir all the reader's feeling and emotions, this is not a book one can finish and feel absolutely nothing. Batuk is nine when she is sold by her father and enters the hungry world of childhood slavery and prostitution. Human trafficking and the trafficking of minor is a huge money generating machine. a practice that in some countries is accepted. The spirit of this young girl is amazing and made this read even harder.

Not an easy read because of the subject matter, but it...more
3.5 stars

Did I like this? No. Was it well done? MMM... yes. I found the subject very disturbing and perhaps a bit too much graphic sex...but probably only the tip of what goes on in these countries. Was this story heartbreaking? Hell yes! Do we close our eyes to such horrible things? All the time.
I have to commend the author for having the nerve to write about this...and as a first book. I appreciated that he portrayed these characters with a numbness, as I think that is what must happen to surv...more
Susan Storm
I always enjoy reading books about people who overcome deep struggles and harsh circumstances, and so I was really drawn into this book. It's written in the first person by Batuk, a young girl sold by her family into child prostitution at the age of nine. She writes down her experiences in her 'blue notebook' and through her eyes we get to see the terror that these kids face on a daily basis, but through the eyes of a child. Through all that she suffers she writes with intense imagination and ev...more
The Blue Notebook by James Levine is told in the point of view of Batuk, a young girl who has been sold into prostitution by her father. From then on, she works through several places, including the streets of Mumbai, then being bought from place to place where her final place ends up being in some sort of hotel.

It's a hard read. Although being only two hundred pages, it is an account in extreme graphic detail of Batuk's life after being sold by her father. She does not skimp away the grisly de...more
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 15. 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...more
It’s easy to become complacent when you live in Canada. 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. So when I read a novel like James Levine’s The Blue Notebook it sticks with me. Not because it’s beautifully written literature – which I have to say, it’s not – but because it tells a story so compelling and upsetting and alien to my everyday life, I...more
Batuk is a 15 year-old Indian girl that was sold into prostitution at the age of 9 by her father (we never really find out the reason why, but there is a reference to the father having lost everything). The Blue Notebook is a journal written by Batuk in between her sessions of “making sweet-cake” with her customers. In this journal she tells us of her life prior to being sold - what it was like living by the river, her family, her bout with TB and how she was taught to read and write by the nurs...more
I wish I liked this book more. It's the story of a 9 year old girl sold into prostitution in the filthy slums of Mumbai by her parents. Batuk narrates her story and records her grim experiences in a blue notebook. This novel was inspired by the author's experiences interviewing homeless children in India, in particular one girl who wrote in a journal outside her "nest".

While the concept of the novel is noble, and indeed the proceeds of the book go directly to help exploited children, unfortunat...more
Lydia Presley
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. I understand that the author was trying to impress upon his readers the gravity and horror of th...more
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."

Dr. 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...more
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... and she finds it with pen and paper. Despite the abuses at so many hands, she is resilient and hopeful.

Beautifully heartbreaking... a harsh, lyrical read that I highly recommend. Well-crafted, although wanted more answ...more
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...more
Donna M.

The Blue Notebook is the fictional journal of a poor Indian girl sold into the sex trade at nine. James Levine did an exceptional job capturing the voice of the female, teenage narrator. The details were staggering, and the language exceptional. I questioned how Batuk, the daughter of a poor, alcoholic peasant could read and write but the author's storyline made this a plausible coincidence.

Batuk's situation was so disturbing and the fact that it was based upon notes from Levine's interviews of...more
If you rate a book based on emotional response, then I give this a 15/10. Books rarely move me to tears, but this one did, and not just because of the eye-wateringly graphic sexual violence. The personality of young Batuk, sold into sexual slavery at the age of 9 by her father, transcends the squalor and brutality of her life. The fact that she is such an engaging character makes it all too easy to imagine yourself, worse, your daughter, enslaved and prostituted, given a slightly different throw...more
Un libro non deve essere obbligatoriamente un capolavoro. Talvolta basta che un libro sia testimonianza.
Esiste, al di là dei nostri sicuri confini occidentali, una terra estesa geograficamente, ma anche culturalmente, l'Oriente.
Quando chiesi consigli su titolo che mi portassero ad esplorare, seppur nella limitatezza in cui il termine dev'essere in questo caso inteso, questa terra, ricca di antica saggezza quanto povera da rientrare nel Terzo Mondo, spuntò fuori qu...esto titolo, Il quaderno azzu...more
Louise Chambers
Mar 25, 2010 Louise Chambers rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: child sex slavery, india, human rights
Recommended to Louise by: Denver Public Library
Let's be clear: this young woman is a sex-slave, not a prostitute. She will never see any of the money that she brings in for her captors. She was sold into this life by her father so that he could "save the farm".

If she lives to be old enough to be turned out of sex-slavery, she will still be used in the industry to "break" the new girls; we see her future in the old woman who prepares her to be broken by the highest bidder: her new "uncle".

If she were a prostitute, she might have some decision...more
If a book can tear your heart out, then The Blue Notebook by James Levine M.D. is the book to do it. How can such a heartbreaking story be so beautiful?

This is the story of Batuk, a fifteen year old girl sold into sexual slavery at age nine. Batuk writes in the blue notebook between customers and tells us of her life. Her writing also reveals her own imagination, resillisance, wisdom and naivety. Batuk is an astute observer of others and we get to see some of what her world is like. Knowing not...more
Tara Chevrestt
A few days ago, I watched a televsion show about women in India. This show went behind the scenes at a woman's prison and showed viewers that Indian women love their children so much that they take their children to jail with them. They raise their children behind bars until the child reaches the age of six. I thought to myself, "that sounds like a bad idea." One of the women that was raising her child behind bars said it was safer for her child in prison than on the streets of India. I doubted...more
Regina Lindsey
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
There are some books that I just can’t wait to read. I’m excited about them and I know I’m going to love them just for their pure entertainment value. The Blue Notebook is not one of those books, though since it was hugely enlightening I am very glad I read it.

The story follows a 15 year-old prostitute in Mumbai who finds a pencil and begins writing the story of her life. Batuk manages to find a level of comfort through writing her thoughts and experiences as she goes about her work. Her life ch...more
Het blauwe schriftje"is een bijzonder boek.

Batuk Ramasdeen, zij woonde in Dreepah-Jil, een dorpje in Madhya Pradesh, India. Ze leefde daar in bittere armoede maar had een gelukkige jeugd. Batuk is de verteller van het indringende verhaal over kinderprostitutie.

Batuk is een echt vaderskindje, maar toch zou haar vader haar in Mumbai brengen en haar verkopen voor de prostitutie. Batuk, 9 jaar, wordt afgeleverd bij meester Gahil en daar wordt ze klaargemaakt voor het "werk". Voor veel geld wordt ze...more
This is a really, really, really, really violent little book about child prostitution in India. The main character is Batuk, a little girl with a really really really really stupid father. When she is nine, her father goes bankrupt and sells her into prostitution. She winds up on the common street in Mumbai as a whore where she manages to obtain the blue notebook that becomes her journal. In it she records her thoughts. She's really really really really really smart and really really really real...more
Nicole Bonia
Batuk is a fifteen-year-old girl living in a brothel on Common Street in Mumbai, India. The bright points in her life are her best friend, Puneet, a male prostitute living a few “nests” down from her in the same brothel, and a notebook which she keeps hidden away in a slit in her thin mattress. 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...more
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James A. Levine é Professor de Medicina na Mayo Clinic, cientista de renome mundial, médico e investigador.
Vive atualmente em Oronoco, no estado do Minnesota. Recentemente, viajou para Índia e, em Mumbai, onde esteve a entrevistar meninos de rua, ficou-lhe na mente a imagem de uma menina sentada na berma a escrever num diário. Esta visão foi tão marcante que o inspirou a dedicar-se à escrita.
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