May's Reviews > Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity

Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo
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Jul 09, 12


First Sentence: "Midnight was closing in, the one-legged woman was grievously burned, and the Mumbai police were coming for Abdul and his father."

Behind Beautiful Forevers is a narrative non-fiction documenting lives of families living in Annawadi, a city slum separated from Bombay International Airport and luxury hotels by a wall with a huge advertisement that says, "Beautiful Forevers."

In their makeshift settlement, families and children grapple for the recyclables that people throw away. There in Annawadi, where corruption is rife and the police have a "cut" in the people's livelihood, the children sleep with rats, play in sewage and scavenge for metal to help put food on the table.

It reads like a novel, which is probably why I had to remind myself that this book was non-fiction. And when I am wholly conscious that the story was for real, I felt I was privy to how the "other" half lives. I am by no means rich but the abject poverty, the caste system of India, the pecking order, the health risks and the hopelessness depicted in this book made me feel fortunate and grateful for the abundance I have experienced in my life.
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