Suzanne'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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Feb 27, 2012

it was amazing

This is much scarier than any STEPHEN KING novel. I KEPT ON ASKING HOW THIS COULD NOT BE FICTION. I knew that Mumbai was impoverished, in the past. Yet , I read about the growing middle and professional classes. I saw specials on TV, which showed beautiful new apartment complexes.
According to Boo's book,the "Undercity" is still there. It is being squished as the planners grab every inch from the poor. The corruption of every institution is more pervasive than I can imagine. I wished that this was a novel. This is an important read, but not preachy. It is hard to read because the details of life which I take for granted, are not even dreams for the scavengers of Mumbai. In one day, I throw away a garbage recyclers' fortune. This is a must read for anyone who thinks that he has a hard life. Although, the tale is of abject poverty and sanctioned cruelty by corrupt institutions and those with a little bit of power, the people (not characters) are well developed and memorable. Although, their destinies are pretty much predetermined, they have their dreams and try to get ahead by working, saving, and being creative. Some people can not hold to their dreams and give up. Who can blame them? Others leap at any chance to attain their dreams. I can not forget this book.
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Reading Progress

February 27, 2012 – Started Reading
February 27, 2012 – Shelved
May 5, 2012 – Finished Reading

Comments (showing 1-13 of 13) (13 new)

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Gary  the Bookworm I agree that this is essential reading and I think your review summed it up perfectly.

Betsy McTiernan This has moved to the top of my must-read books, thanks to your review.

Lori Kincaid Rassati I have been to Mumbai twice--in late 2005 and early 2008. Not only is the undercity alive and well, but it is everywhere. I am starting this book in the next five minutes and I'm so looking forward to it.

Suzanne I'm sure you'll be impressed by this book. I got a pretty good view of India's underbelly. If you have anything to add,please write here. I don't plan on visiting, so I need others to bring me their vision.

Betsy McTiernan I just got it. It's next on my list.

Suzanne I always think of my Indian students when I read a book about India. They always seemed to have a smile on their faces. Nothing seemed to faze them. They were recent immigrants for theo most part. I guess they couldn't't have been poor in India, but in the U.S. they never appeared rich.

message 7: by Lynne (new) - added it

Lynne King Excellent review Suzanne,

Concise and yet to the point. Super...

Suzanne Thank you.

Patricia Have you read Maximum City by Suketu Mehta? It also reads like fiction and had the same impact on me as Boo's book. I'm actually surprised he was brave enough to write it. I wouldn't have been.

Suzanne No, I've never heard of it. Thanks for the recommendation .

message 11: by Steve (new)

Steve Even though you wrote this a while ago, this is my first time seeing it. It's very powerful, Suzanne. You do a great job conveying how dire it must be, and how first world problems (e.g., sitting on a runway for an hour) amount to so little compared to the terrible poverty these people face.

Suzanne Thanks. When we hear about the expansion of the middle class, a few million have joined it; big deal. The many millions are obscenely poor. The government isn't addressing them.

message 13: by Maudy (new) - added it

Maudy Sammut i repeat some comments above....excellent review and you are absolutely right; it is more scary than stephen king

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