Customer Reviews for

The Blue Notebook

Average Rating 4.5
( 38 )
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5 Star

(21)

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(11)

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(5)

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

6 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

Haunting

This was a hard book to read and review. The subject material is bad enough but as the story unfolds you almost want to shield your eyes.

Batuk Ramusdeen is a 15 year old prostitute who was sold by her parents when she was only 9 years old. It is obvious that she is ...
This was a hard book to read and review. The subject material is bad enough but as the story unfolds you almost want to shield your eyes.

Batuk Ramusdeen is a 15 year old prostitute who was sold by her parents when she was only 9 years old. It is obvious that she is a bright, funny and imaginative child who if she had been allowed, would have had a very different trajectory than the one we find her inhabiting at the start of the story. But for reasons best known to her parents, they sell her off to a life that is unfathomably cruel and brutal. She is initiated into her new status after being raped by one of the "uncles" who wins the bidding war on her virginity. From here on, she is taken to a brothel where she sleeps with a minimum of ten men a day. In this life of abuse, she has one close friend, Puneet, a boy who is considered a favorite of the madam as the customers can't seem to get enough of him. Batuk takes up writing in her notebook as a way to escape the life that she is forced to inhabit. She is an astute observer of her life and the situations around her. She also surprisingly manages to retain her sense of humor and display a resilience that is hard to fathom. Words are the only outlet from the tragedy and unending violence of her life and they are her friends when all else fails.

I will warn that this book will definitely be very hard to take for most people. None of the brutalities that Batuk suffers are glossed over but instead they are relayed in specific and excruciating detail. It is very hard to imagine this kind of treatment being meted out to anyone but worse still to a child. The idea for this book was conceived of when the author, Dr. James Levin, was in India doing research and happened upon a girl in a brothel who was writing in a book. He spoke to her about her experiences and that encounter inspired this work. His writing is stunning in part because of the subject matter but also because he is a first time writer who has managed to produce an amazing story. A poetic and poignant tale that shines a light on what is a sad reality for many children.

All US proceeds from the sale of this book are to be donated to the International and National Centers for Missing and Exploited Children.

posted by TrishNYC on April 16, 2009

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Most Helpful Critical Review

4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

Realistic shocking account

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 fina...
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 details that happens to her and how she is meant to please her clients. The only light hearted moments I get are when she shares a laugh with her friend Puneet and how they make fun of the "Hippopotamus". I thought they were so cute together but, even that little bit of happiness fades as Batuk is passed on to another place to do her work.

My heart went out for Batuk. You see her innocence shatter and how she narrates the entire story you don't hear much emotion, it's almost as you can hear a flat voice through the diary entries. It's a bleak and depressing read but it probably is a very realistic account of what happens out there to child prostitutes anywhere in the world.

There are only a few things I didn't agree with in this book. I'm not for flowery poetry writing and mini stories and there's a few parts of that in this story. I mostly skipped it by as I didn't have much patience for that. I don't really understand how you can be that literate when you've only learned to read and write at a missionary hospital but that's just my opinion. Second, the ending was very vague. However, if you really think about it, no one in this world really cares where a prostitute ends up, therefore the ending shouldn't matter. It's very shocking, but it's sadly true however, I would have liked to know where Batuk ended up. Also note, due to the graphic nature and content this is not for the squeamish. It didn't bother me much, but there were parts where I cringed.

Overall a very sad and in depth look into the life of a child slave. It'll make you feel for the millions of child slaves and helpless women out there suffering where they have no control over their lives and sadly, no where to turn to.

posted by Sensitivemuse on September 6, 2009

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 12, 2009

    A book that will challenge you.

    I could not put this book down once I started it. The story was written from the point of veiw of a bright young girl who was sold into the sex slave industry by her parents. Her story was compelling and disturbing. It challenges you to open your eyes and see how children are being exploited and destroyed for the perverted pleasure of adults. It also challenges you to step up and try to make a difference in any way you can.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 11, 2013

    This book will haunt you forever

    This book is horrifying....gut wrenching. The last 30 pages caused me tears and pain. We don't like to read books like this because we don't want to think these atrocities are going on in the world to small, innocent children. The fact is this is happening every day.
    I thought the author, who is a physician, a researcher, and male did a very good job of telling the story from the aspect of a young innocent girl. The means Batuk takes to stay sane when sold into prostitution at the age of 8 bring tears to my eyes. If there was ever a reason to stop the sex trade that goes on in the world today...this book tells us why we must do everything we are able to do to stop it. This book is not for the faint of heart....it will haunt you forever.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 17, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    A story about a child prostitute in Mumbai...

    A great fictional story which, no doubt, is true for the many children sold into prostitution in India. The Blue Notebook's main character, Batuk, is a bit unbelievable because she learned how to read and write within weeks while being hospitalized at a young age, but her writing reflects someone at a college student's level.

    Overall, I liked this book and find it to be a great addition to my home library. Batuk's story is interesting and reads quickly.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 13, 2014

    Painful and important

    So horrendously sad. This is not an American Happy Ending,with the damsel rescued to start anew. Much more honest and difficult, yet valuable as a voice for those who cannot be heard.

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    Posted October 2, 2009

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    Posted August 29, 2009

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    Posted October 25, 2010

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    Posted January 27, 2010

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    Posted June 11, 2011

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    Posted November 19, 2013

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    Posted February 3, 2014

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