Advance reader reviews of Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo.

Behind the Beautiful Forevers

Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity

By Katherine Boo

Behind the Beautiful Forevers
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  • Published in USA  Feb 2012,
    288 pages.

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There are currently 32 member reviews
for Behind the Beautiful Forevers
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  • Sally D. (Racine, WI)


    Very worth reading
    People may be scared away by the description of the subject matter of this book. Am I really in the mood to read a sad, gut- wrenching story about these poor souls in The slums of India?

    My advise to those people is "Try it". From the very first I was drawn into these characters and their community. It is fascinating to read about how they survive such horror and still retain (for the most part) their willingness to look to the future and keep on trying.

    I guarantee the stories and characters in this book will stay with you long after you have finished it.
  • Theresa R. (Sierra Madre, CA)


    Good, but hard to read
    I don't honestly think I can write a very good review of this book because I really don't know how to rate it. It was a well written book, and I'm impressed by how well researched it was, but it took me a long time to finish because I couldn't read much at a time due to the subject of the book - it left me a little depressed at times. I'm not sure that I would recommend this book to anyone.
  • Gayle M. (Billerica, MA)


    Good Book / Tough Subject
    Although I generally don't read non-fiction, I was pleasantly surprised by this book. It's a fascinating view into a world that most of us will never encounter. The story is told in a way that draws the reader in. I would recommend this book, but warn readers that parts of it are difficult to read.
  • sadie


    It's a winnah!
    All of the great press that you've been reading about this book? It rates! It's true! What an amazing tale. Yes, the context is difficult but the overall narrative really shines. I will be recommending this to everyone.
  • Sharon P. (Jacksonville, FL)


    Behind the Beautiful Forevers
    Katherine Roo has written an amazing story of people living in unimaginable poverty. An American writer married to an Indian man, she has seen the amazing transformation of many large cities in India; "skyscraping luxury condominiums with stirring views of other skyscraping luxury condominiums". She felt the need to find out what had happened in historically poor communities, the people usually overlooked or displaced by the frenzied rush for "bigger and better".
    She chose the makeshift "city" of Annawadi , huddled in the shadow of the luxury hotels near the Mumbai airport. The people live in a range of hovels or shacks made of everything from dirt or cardboard to scrap wood or scavenged bricks. Children make pennies by scavenging garbage to sell to recyclers. In spite of living in horrendous conditions, some of the residents are able to create a standard of living that gives them some hope for the future.
    The author has captured both the appalling poverty and the amazing courage and optimism of the people of Annawadi.
    This is a book well worth reading.
  • Darlene C. (Woodstock, il)


    Remember - narrative non-fiction - Not a novel!
    This is an extremely well written book although one that is difficult to read due to the painful subject matter. If readers are not familiar with "narrative non-fiction" I would suggest reading the "Author's Note" first. This should probably be at the beginning of the book rather than at the end. It is important for readers to understand this is a work of non-fiction, not a novel. Boo is a talented writer who brings a hidden population to light. Not a book read for enjoyment but for education. Her description of the slums of Anawadi, India and the lives of the people who who inhabit them is superb. Boo's book reads like a novel while bringing an important message to all of us about the state of many in our world. I would highly recommend this book. It would be a terrific book club choice.
  • Marta T. (Lafayette, CA)


    Research brought to life, with important universal insights
    Set in one of the grimmest urban areas of India, this beautifully written book examines three years in the daily lives of people struggling to survive in a slum near the Mumbai airport. It's not a work of fiction, though it's reminiscent of Slum Dog Millionaire and A Fine Balance. One wants the story to end well and with finality, but reality doesn't always have a neat ending. The author, Katherine Boo, brings the reader remarkably close to the slum dwellers, given language barriers, the presence of an outsider, and the difficulties of communicating with people who don't have the luxury of having much to say. It's a tale of the effort and ingenuity of people trying to improve their lot, and the obstacles that prevent this, from natural disasters to political decisions to global economics, and most of all, corruption. It shows how empathy can be squashed, and injustice can run amok. The themes are compelling; this book would be an excellent choice for readers in a group to explore how they apply to our own communities, and how to change others for the better.
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