I started reading this book on my Kindle and between the strange "fantasy" imagination of the girl and the Indian language, I just couldn't appreciate it. I am glad that I gave it another chance on audio. Levine, a doctor at the Mayo clinic, was inspired to write this heartbreaking and terrifying novel when he was interviewing homeless children in Mumbai as part of his medical research. In the "Street of Cages" where child prostitutes ply their trade, literally encaged by their neglectful and abusive overseers (who pocket all the profits), Levine was struck by the sight of a young girl sitting outside her cage writing in a notebook. Thus was born The Blue Notebook.
Batuk is a 15 year old girl who was sold to Mamaki Briila by her father when she was 9. Forced to service up to ten men a day from her "nest," and subject to deplorable treatment by the men who pay for her services, she's even abused by the doctor who examines her; her friend Puneet, meanwhile, nearly dies after being sexually assaulted by two policemen and is castrated at the first signs of puberty. Batuk tells her story matter-of-factly, in a voice reminiscent of The Color Purple's. While painful to read, Batuk's story puts a face on the mistreatment and disregard for children worldwide, as well as a testament to the hopefulness and power of literacy. The writing is wonderful and Batuk and her spirited soul comes to life as a real survivor. This was not an easy story to hear knowing all of these atrocities are true and go on today but, it was definitely worthwhile. As long as you are aware that there are many attrocities that will make you uncomfortable, this is a very well written and enjoyable book that will stay with me for quite a while. FYI, the author donates all proceeds to helping exploited children.