Rated of 5
by 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.
Rated of 5
by 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.
Rated of 5
by 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.
Rated of 5
by Susan B. (Rutledge, MO) heartbreaking, well written, memorable
As many others have noted, this is not an easy book to read. As I sit in my comfy house and type on my personal computer, just knowing that I experience a level of safety and security that is literally impossible to imagine for the people in this non-fiction narrative is both mind-stretching and heartbreaking. This glimpse into a few of the “little lives” impacted by the terrible inequalities that exist in the world is painful, eye-opening, and well worth a read by anyone who cares to know how others experience the world.
Rated of 5
by Viqui G. (State College, PA) Behind the Beautiful Forevers
This book encapsulate the lives of typical Annawadi residents, a slum next to the Mumbai airport. Their lives are difficult and very stressful but as Sunil, one of the street boys ponders, that even though he has a bad life, "a boy's life could still matter to himself". We learn how the most disenfranchised members of this slum are able to survive and even flourish: Abdul the garbage sorter, Kalu, the scrap -metal thief, and Manju a college student who can get a degree by memorization or "by-hearting" her lessons. However, when tragedy strikes them it is very difficult for these slum residents to overcome adversity. This book certainly made me realize that the pervasiveness of corruption is in all aspects of life in India. Bribes are a way of life and accepted as such. Even the Indian criminal justice system was a market and in Abdul's words "innocence and guilt could be bought and sold like a kilo of polyurethane bags". However some of these residents also have hope of improvement in their lives, and this hope is what motivates them, even when their conditions are deplorable. Other residents lose their hope and commit suicide. Overall, this "narrative nonfiction" reads like a novel. Katherine Boo has depicted the residents of Annawadi in a sympathetic yet realistic manner. She has researched this community with thoroughness and imparts her information in a very readable prose.
Rated of 5
by Liz C. (Kalamazoo, MI) Riveting
In Behind the Beautiful Forevers, Katherine Boo gives readers a riveting glimpse into the lives of the residents of Annawadi, a makeshift slum near the Mumbai airport. Boo artfully portrays the lives of people living in circumstances I couldn’t imagine. This book impressed me on many levels. Boo spent over 3 years with the people she writes about: Abdul Husain, a Muslim, teenage garbage picker; Zehrunisa, his mother; Asha, a middle-aged mother with aspirations of improving her position in life by taking on the role of slum lord; Manju, Asha’s daughter, who attends a college of sorts, and Fatima, the Hussains’ neighbor whose actions set in motion a tragedy for both families. The end result is narrative nonfiction at its finest and a book you won’t soon forget.
U.S. ebook sales up in 2012, but rate of growth is slowing(May 16 2013) In 2012, trade book sales (i.e. non academic book sales) rose 6.9%, to $15.049 billion, and e-book sales continued to grow, although the rate of growth...