AdultNonFiction Teton County Library'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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's review
Oct 30, 2013

it was amazing
bookshelves: culture

Call#: 305.569 BOO K

Rebecca's rating - 5 stars
Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist Katherine Boo spent four years documenting the lives of some of Mumbai, India's most deprived citizens. Annawadi is a squatter's slum across the street from the international airport and luxury hotels. A subculture that has risen out of swampy land with a lake of sewage providing a constant worry of malaria, it's anything but beautiful. Prosperity for Annawadians is measured by how much trash you can sort for recycling or how many corrupt police and politicians will throw you their crumbs. Boo sums it up starkly with this line: “For the poor of a country where corruption thieved a great deal of opportunity, corruption was one of the genuine opportunities that remained.”

The individuals Boo follows battle corruption, but also use it to survive. Their stories,while harsh, are so intriguing I had to keep reminding myself that I was reading non-fiction. Abdul, a Muslim teenager, is a talented "businessman" supporting his family in a style envied by others in the community recycling garbage rich people throw away. Asha uses political and police connections in an attempt to struggle out of poverty and assure that her daughter is the first college graduate of the Anawadian community. Fatima, a one-legged neighbor of Abdul's family, is prone to violent rages and vindication. Kalu, a boy with the spunk to risk his life to steal scrap then sell it to Abdul. Sometimes the paths they choose in their indomitable quest to survive and better their lives are dark ones. Boo shows why they do what they have to do. This unforgettable true story, meticulously researched, reads like a novel. It's no surprise that it won the National Book Award for non-fiction.

Marisa's rating: 4 stars
Such an amazing and beautifully crafted book! Katherine Boo tells the story of the residents of a Mumbi slum with such heart and compassion that it reads like a fiction novel. Highly recommended!

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Reading Progress

Finished Reading
October 30, 2013 – Shelved
October 30, 2013 – Shelved as: culture

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

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message 1: by Kirsten (new)

Kirsten ooh, makes me want to read it Reb!

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