Reader reviews and comments on Behind the Beautiful Forevers, plus links to write your own review.

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Behind the Beautiful Forevers

Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity

By Katherine Boo

Behind the Beautiful Forevers
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  • Hardcover: Feb 2012,
    288 pages.
    Paperback: Apr 2014,
    288 pages.

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There are currently 34 reader reviews for Behind the Beautiful Forevers
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Diane S. (01/04/13)

Behind the Beautiful Forevers
It is very helpful if the reader reads the author's notes at the back of the book before reading the book. I think if I had done that it would have changed how I felt as I was reading the book. I really learned quite a bit from this book, things I never knew such as that 1/3rd of the impoverished live in India, this despite the fact that India is second in economic growth behind China. The slum that the author writes about is at the crossroads between the old India and the new India, virtually across the road from the airport. Three hundred and some shacks house over three thousand system, and I was amazed to learn that even here there is a caste system. I love that the author followed specific characters living here and while their living conditions are not what we would consider at all ideal, they still live with the hope that someday they can rise above their circumstances and be able to leave slum living. Actually one of the characters the author follows is the slums fist college graduate. The narrative style of writing makes this a very easy book to read, not the content of course which at times was appalling and at times horribly sad. The prose is simple and agile, the characters of many different types, and I did find myself rooting for a few that became my favorites. I don't think anyone reading this will be disappointed, though as with all books some will like it more than others. I am finding as I read these different books, non fiction and historical fiction, that my world view has increased while globally getting smaller.
Louise J (09/20/12)

Behind the Beautiful Forevers
Katherine Boo has written a remarkable, thoroughly researched, engaging, insightful, educational, and informative ethnography of slum life on the outskirts of Mumbai in Annwadi. Boo’s ability to capture the devastating toll this type of living has on its inhabitants is truly phenomenal.

Behind the Beautiful Forevers is a must read in order to fully understand the degrading and indignant conditions in which some of our fellow human beings are forced to live. It has been quite a while where I have personally been so affected by a piece of writing. As I finish this review my shock factor is still at its height.
Theresa R. (Sierra Madre, CA) (02/14/12)

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.
Sally D. (Racine, WI) (02/14/12)

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.
Gayle M. (Billerica, MA) (02/04/12)

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 (02/02/12)

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) (01/30/12)

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) (01/26/12)

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.

Beyond the Book:
  Slums

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