I was really excited to read The Blue Notebook: A Novel because I was very intrigued with its premise: an American doctor sees a child prostitute in India writing in a journal and wonders what she is writing about. He then writes a fictional story imagining her and what her life may have been like and what she was writing about. I was intrigued by the idea that this little girl somehow made sense of her horrible life situation by writing and telling stories.
While I think that the book is an accomplishment, and Levine certainly manages to give Batuk a voice and a very strong personality and at the same time to tell the horrible story (based on truth) of the lives of child prostitutes in Mumbai’s “Street of Cages”. I was appalled by many of the descriptions, especially by his discriptions of the orphanages, some of which we also see in Slumdog Millionaire but not to the extent that Levine describes it. I felt that some of the stories that Batuk told were a bit long and I kind of got lost a bit along the way in terms of their relevance – perhaps there was a bit too much symbolism there for me to really understand. And I was completely confused by the ending. In general I am all for vague endings, but here I really didn’t understand if Batuk died and who killed all the men. After some thought I figured it must have been the other two prostitutes but I found it all very confusing.
All in all the story was very well executed and there were many moments that I cried. Batuk is a wonderful, strong and interesting character, perhaps I just wish the book had a different, or clearer ending. I’m not sure I would recommend this book. I’m still trying to decide.