I read a lot of books. Even with a family, I always find time to read. I have a Kindle, a local library, and friends who give me their books once they are done reading them.
The most recent book I read was “The Blue Notebook” by James Levine. He’s a doctor who wrote the book after doing medical research in Mumbai and seeing the conditions in which some children live, namely children prostitutes, prompted him to write. He was somehow able to capture the voice of a young girl named Batuk and make it seem like nonfiction, even though the story itself is fiction.
One of the reviewers from Amazon.com said:
“The Blue Notebook is a deeply moving story and a searing reminder of the resilience of the human spirit. It is a tribute to how writing can give meaning and help one transcend even the most harrowing circumstances. The voice of Batuk, the unforgettable child prostitute heroine, will stay with the reader a long, long time.”—Khaled Hosseini, author of The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns
Granted, Khaled Hosseini is a published author, but I can’t agree. The resilience of the human spirit? Yes, somehow Batuk was able to stay sane through her brutal treatment. But using writing to give meaning to harrowing circumstances? This writing Batuk uses to escape her reality and overcome her circumstances is actually the reason (spoiler alert!) she gets caught in a situation where she is so horribly abused that she dies. How is that overcoming her circumstances? By dying? Is that the best she could hope for?
Also, within the final few pages of the book, Levine leaves many unanswered questions. How did her tormentors die? What happened to the prostitutes that were in the room with her? How is she able to write her last few pages when she is so near death that she can’t even eat or concentrate? Through the entire book, Levine spoon-feeds the reader each and every detail of Batuk’s life and then at the end, when the chance for closure is right there, he leaves it dangling. It’s very frustrating when a tone in a book can change so quickly.
Is it a good book? Overall, it’s well-written, and if you can stomach the things that Batuk goes through at the hands of her family and employers, then you have more power than me. I actually had to skim over some parts because I actually felt ill reading them.
I realize Levine is attempting to bring light to this global issue (child prostitution) but I don’t have to like how he does it.