Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Blue Notebook


"The books we need are of the kind that act upon us like a misfortune, that make us suffer like the death of someone we love more than ourselves, that make us feel as though we were on the verge of suicide, or lost in a forest remote from all human habitation -- a book should serve as an ax for the frozen sea within us." ---Franz Kafka

Amy and I started this blog as a way to write about silly, trivial things like fashion and celebrity and pretty things. However, please allow me to be maudlin and serious for just one post. Recently, I finished listening to the audio book for The Blue Notebook, by James A. Levine, M.D. Dr. Levine is based out of the Mayo Clinic, and has traveled to Mumbai, India, where he interviewed children who live on Mumbai's "Street of Cages," a red-light district where a half a million prostitutes ply their trade from tiny cages that line the street. One of the girls he interviewed, a 15-year old, was the impetus for The Blue Notebook, which tells the story of a girl who is sold into prostitution at age 9 by her father.

The book, while a fictionalized account, is based on very real circumstances that take place countless times to numerous girls and boys every day on the Street of Cages. It was horrific, graphic, intensely moving, but most of all haunting. My heart ached while listening to it, and many times I had to stop to get away from it, but I felt like I needed to finish it. My heart ached for the main character, just a year older than my beloved niece, who was constantly in my head. My heart aches to wonder "what can I possibly do to help? what can one person do?" Do I donate money? Definitely. What else? Will the little bit that I can do even make a difference? Do I raise my own children as best I can so that they are good people who care about others and their world around them? I am doing the best I can. It is a helpless feeling, this ache to try and help someone I don't know and will probably never meet. Thank God for Amy, who when I spoke to her about my helpless feeling said, "Lot of little makes a lot."

Is The Blue Notebook a book you recommend that someone else read? I can't really say that. It is not one that you want to read, but it is one that you need to read. It is an atrocity that is all too real, like what has happened in Haiti, like war or terrorism, and make no mistake, it is not an atrocity that only happens in a far away place. Yes, child prostitution is a taboo subject in the United States, but children are exploited here every single day.

My hope in writing this post is that one of our readers will be compelled to get involved, will be angered to do something productive. My hope is that this book, this subject, will be the ax for the frozen sea within us all.

100% of the proceeds from U.S. sales go towards helping missing and exploited children.

For more information on missing and exploited children, visit www.icmec.org.

3 comments:

GiGi said...

You are such a great writer---just had to say that.
Do you own this? Library?

MerciBlahBlah said...

Awww, thanks. It's what I wanted to do at one time in my life - write for a magazine. Instead, I lead the glamourous life with 20 month old trips. Don't hate.

Yep, got it at the library.

James Levine said...

My name is James Levine and i wrote the blue notebook. I was moved and honored that you heard my work. as you will see this is the first time i have ever responded to any internet comment. JL