Customer Reviews for

Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity

Average Rating 4
( 177 )
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Most Helpful Favorable Review

32 out of 32 people found this review helpful.

John

Wonderful read, depressing subject. Slowly you enter this slum and eventually.you are there. Tragic but I could not stop reading

posted by Anonymous on February 13, 2012

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Most Helpful Critical Review

3 out of 38 people found this review helpful.

Nerevar

Gosh dangit. Locked out.

posted by Anonymous on February 7, 2012

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 13, 2012

    John

    Wonderful read, depressing subject. Slowly you enter this slum and eventually.you are there. Tragic but I could not stop reading

    32 out of 32 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted March 20, 2012

    I Also Recommend:

    This is beautifully written with humor and sensitivity. The char

    This is beautifully written with humor and sensitivity. The characters come alive and you quickly care very much about them and their attempts to leave the Annawadi. The subject matter is sometimes grim, but the author shines another light on it with intelligence, wit and humor. It's a fast-paced story showing the courage of these poor people. I recommend this excellent book because there is so much for people to learn here and be grateful for the good things in their own lives. You will have a heavy heart when you finish.

    30 out of 34 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 8, 2012

    Beautiful and exciting

    Beautifully written, fast-moving, and touching - this is a gem.

    28 out of 33 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 12, 2012

    Well written, but very troublesome and depressing.

    The book is well written,but I have not read anything that offers hope so far. Everyone is corrupt except maybe the young boy Kabul. Any to think these conditions are right next to the big airport and the extravagant high rise hotels. If India is so up and coming why do they not help the poor and provide healthy hospitals.

    19 out of 29 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 18, 2012

    Highly recommend

    An excellent book; best book I've read about India since City of Joy. Boo is an amazing author drawing you into the lives of each of her friends of Anawadi. She'll open your eyes, break your heart, and drive you to prayer.

    18 out of 20 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 3, 2012

    There are moments of innocence, and a bit of unexpected wit amid

    There are moments of innocence, and a bit of unexpected wit amidst the descriptions of horrific suffering, abject misery and violence that are juxtaposed against each other and accepted as a normal way of life by the residents of Annawandi, an unbelievably impoverished community of the poor in India. It sits just adjacent to opulent, luxury hotels on airport property, built for the rich and famous. The squalid huts barely provide shelter or privacy for the inhabitants as they scavenge the leavings of these monuments and its dwellers. The contrast is stark and unforgiving. Envy is in no short supply there, and they each prey upon the other, the weak on the weaker, the poor on the poorer, simply to survive. Children are commodities, education is minimal, girls are not as valuable as boys, blame is always assigned someplace else rather than on one’s own shoulders and few accept responsibility for their own behavior and its consequences.

    The jobs of the poor create a hierarchy in the community. Each different level earns a different small amount of respect for residents. There seemed to be little that was beyond the pale regarding what these poor souls would attempt in order to live another day. Suicides were common in the face of such hopelessness. What made it so hard to read was the realization that this story is based on real families; it is non-fiction; your hair will rise as you realize this is really happening in this day and age, in a culture still steeped in prejudice and memories of the hateful caste system. Their superstition is evidenced in statements like this: “He beats his wife but lets her live.” This is supposed to be commendable.

    Abdul is a young Muslim man who makes his living as a waste collector. His family has been moving up the ladder of success, saving for the day when they can become landowners, in a community of Muslims, where they will be treated with respect and have a better life. In huts with walls, sometimes no thicker than paper separating families, the residents will do anything necessary to earn money. They turn against each other, they are superstitious, they are cruel and vengeful, looking to blame someone for their troubles, even, and often wrongfully, never turning back even after they realize they have committed a grave injustice. It is important to maintain appearances, even in the face of such squalor; lies flourish.

    Separated by only a few inches from the one legged woman who filled with envy and anger, falsely accuses his family of setting her aflame, Abdul and his family must enter into a nightmare scenario simply to survive the corruption and graft necessary to earn their freedom and end the injustice. Even though Fatima’s young daughter witnessed her self-immolation, the wheels of justice are not just, but are filled with low-lifes, frauds of all stripes, corrupt police who beat innocent victims, dishonest and dishonorable advocates encouraging neighbors to lie so they may then offer bribes that they swear will guarantee their innocence, if only they will pay. Whom shall they pay? They have no money; they can't afford to squander any of it on a chance, not a guarantee. Each player in this wicked game tells a greater lie, simply to get paid for services often worthless and never rendered. It feels very much like Kafka's trial, a hopeless situation without solution.
    The author, married to a native of India, spent several years investigating these residents, and she has written a beautifully crafted rendition of their lives, albeit steeped in corruption and disaster, as they simply try to survive in a nearly impossible situation. She has captured the texture of their lives and the tone of their conversations, clearly illustrating the struggle they endure daily. Although the hopelessness of their lives appears to be largely of their own making, they are unable to stop the pendulum from swinging back and forth, from disaster to disaster, as they victimize each other. She does not paint a pretty picture and consequently it is difficult to look at it objectively, without disliking many of the characters, even as you understand the motives for their reckless behavior. They are uneducated and backward, and they are unable to see the pain they cause or the disastrous end results approaching for their own future. There is often more concern for animals than people and investors in charitable projects, sponsored by the government, are often corrupt, stealing from the very charity they support and inhibiting even the lackluster efforts of the government.
    One can only hope that, as India prospers, the wealth and benefits will trickle down beyond the borders of the airports wealthy hotels and the neighborhoods of the rich and famous; but these people seem so blind to the plight of the masses of indigent people, it is really hard to imagine.

    15 out of 23 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 9, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    It Reads Like a Novel

    There were times reading this book that I had to remind myself that the events taking place had actually happened, so easily does it all seem like fiction. In introducing the reader to a group of Mumbai slum dwellers, the author reveals what it's like to be at the bottom of the heap in one of the world's fastest growing economies. But, in the midst of people working furiously to carve out a living from collecting garbage (and finding a measure of success), tragedy strikes two families. A woman has died, and her neighbors are accused of killing her. What follows is a labyrinthine journey through bureaucratic red tape, widespread graft and cover-ups. Shining a light on a kind of poverty that doesn't exist in this country, the author gives voice to the voiceless. Finishing the book, I was left wondering if India's rise to global power is in spite of itself and how a society can succeed when even the nuns are willing to trample those beneath them.

    8 out of 13 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 24, 2012

    Lyrical and beautiful

    An amazing true story, not just about abject poverty, but about people-simply beautiful and amazing and lyrical writing, don't miss this fantastic new author!

    6 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 1, 2012

    A Must Read

    A beautifully written book that I could not put down. Katherine Boo brought you into the world of each character and made you care. I didn't want it to end.

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 8, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    From the opening pages Katherine Boo presents a world few of us

    From the opening pages Katherine Boo presents a world few of us could imagine; a world of contradictions, extreme wealth and extreme poverty. This is how it is when you live in Mumbia, India. This is the running narrative of 3 individuals; a teenage garbage trader, a woman who has political aspirations and a young scrap-metal thief. More than anything this is a story of survival in slums of Annawadt which are next door to luxury hotels that divide this area. Boo spent three years researching and living here among the people. This is one of those extraordinary books that will stay with you forever.

    5 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 23, 2012

    Well written, but...

    I read this book for my book group, otherwise I probably wouldn't have finished it. It is beautifully written, the descriptions of the squalor the people endure are vivid, and their hard-scrabble existences are heartbreaking, but I just couldn't get into it. I finished it in a big push so I could go on to something else. Most everyone else in the book group loved it though, so give it a try. You might too.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 30, 2012

    This is, without a doubt, the most well-written, powerful boo

    This is, without a doubt, the most well-written, powerful book that I have ever experienced. Because of the author's way of recording in consequential story form, one truly becomes engaged in each person's life, and notes the radical difference from our own. Not being able to put this book down, I was also impelled to complete it in order to share with my neighbor, who will appreciate just as much, having been to the Mumbai airport...

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 15, 2012

    Nothing comes close to this book when it comes to grasping the f

    Nothing comes close to this book when it comes to grasping the feel and taste of India's under-cities. What Katherine Boo has done here is provide the reader with a true world experience of life in the slums and the back burners that play a critical role in shaping Indian society.

    A masterpiece, and a must read to understand the hidden realities of India.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 19, 2013

    This is one of my favorite books ever. I feel as though I met t

    This is one of my favorite books ever. I feel as though I met the people in the book, and they have a place in my heart.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 31, 2013

    Amazing story!

    A great story of human strength and courage.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 20, 2013

    Hard to Follow

    i didn't like the writing style of this author and found the story line hard to follow.

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 7, 2013

    GET THIS BOOK

    A really great story. You feel like you are entangled int this world of poverty and frustration. I felt like I was living here. Everyone should read this book to get a sense of what a huge percentage of people go through daily!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 26, 2013

    A disturbing read.

    Beautifully written but disturbing.
    It's just hard to believe people still live that way. What a government. It was a good read.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 20, 2013

    I absolutely loved this book, so much that I had to read the neg

    I absolutely loved this book, so much that I had to read the negative reviews just to figure out who wouldn't see the beauty in it. I would like to write a book like this someday.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 29, 2013

    Best book i have read in a very long time

    This book grips its audiance. It tells a story about the life people life in undercities, the life that people cant normally escape. This novel tore me apart, hearing about Abdual and the other childrens lives. Never will i forget this heart wrenchimng story. Best book i have read in FOREVER

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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