Mariah'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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Jan 14, 2013

it was amazing

This book was a deeper take on an Indian slum surrounded by high rise luxury hotels near Mumbai's airport and it had similar elements to some other books about India that I've enjoyed (A Fine Balance, White Tiger, Shantaram) such as great descriptions of sights, sounds and smells, heartbreaking story lines, and flawed heroes. This book had one critical difference, though; it is fully nonfiction. Katherine Boo spent years in the slum of Annawadi getting to know the community's leaders, followers, and interesting characters. This reads like a novel and I had a hard time believing her take on things until I flipped to the author's note at the end that thoroughly explained her research and journalism style.

This was amazingly interesting and fast paced, equally sad and entertaining, and helped me truly understand how deeply corruption runs in India and how it would be nearly impossible not to take part given the opportunity. I admit I was hoping for an neater, cleaner ending, but of course that is not the nature of real life. I had to respect Boo for not pretending that everything would be okay for everyone, but rather finding a point to let the reader go while the community members of Annawadi move on in their quest for survival and attempts to move one small step up in the highly competitive under-cities of India.
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