The author of the Blue Notebook, James A. Levine is a Professor of Medicine at the Mayo Clinic. In collaboration with UNESCO, Dr. James has focused his work on women and children in low income countries. He has done research on homeless children in Mumbai, India
The Blue Notebook is a purely fiction account of the life of Batuk, set in contemporary Mumbai, India. At age nine Batuk's kind and loving acting father sells her to a brothel keeper that deals in child prostitution. We never learn what the pressures were that drove him to this. We witness Batuk's initiation into the life of a child prositute and witness an auction in which she is offered on her first night to the highest bidder. Batuk had learned to read and write at hospital she spent some time at while being treated for Tuberculous where one of the nurses taught her to read and write. As the next few years go by Batuk begins to somehow see life in the small brothel as normal. Some terrible things happen to her and the other children, one of whom is a young boy.
A lot of the prose in The Blue Notebook is really well done. One might ask how did Batuk learn to write so well with such a large vocabulary with no formal schooling but I see no need to press the book hard. Of course this is possible but it strains credibility a bit. At age 15 something very big happens to Batuk.
The Blue Notebook gives us a very sharp look at a very ugly side of contemporary Indian society.
In the spirit of the recent Literary Book Blog Hop, I would say The Blue Notebook bordered on being literary fiction. I found the book kept my attention throughout and I for sure wanted to know what was going to happen next and I wanted very much for Batuk to have a rags to riches story. There were some quite interesting secondary characters in the book.