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Book 14: Behind the Beautiful Forevers (By Katherine Boo)

by on June 13, 2013

Read-A-Thon: Day 4 Progress

Pages Accomplished: 127

BookBehind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo and Looking For Alaska by John Green

FinishedBehind the Beautiful Forevers

Mental State: I am in a horrendous state. I have crumbled under Katherine Boo’s heavy, emotional book. And worst (or best of all), it’s a true account. I seem to have taken on quite a severe masochist frame of mind since I’ve decided to further emotionally abuse myself with John Green. We know what John Green can do to a person’s mental well-being.


Title: Behind the Beautiful Forevers

Author: Katherine Boo

Genre: Non-fiction

Summary: The intertwining and unraveling lives of a few slumdwelling families in Annawadi, behind the wall of Beautiful Forever that separates the wretched dirty waters from the glamorous, false facade that is the luxury hotels, swimming pools, and expensive car services of the Mumbai Airport and the rich.

In 3 nouns: Poverty. Injustice. Humanity.

In 3 adjectives: Heartbreaking. Searing. Enlightening.

The Good: I have never felt so fearful of being in poverty and being powerlessness before this book, which conveys a kind of ignorance on my part about the true nature and predicament of those born into the dirty waters of slums and heartbreaking poverty. I felt so conflicted with some of the people in this book. On the one hand, their actions were immoral, arising a hatred in me. On the other hand, their wretched circumstances made their actions understandable, bringing with that comprehension an inability to wish them ill like I would a black-and-white villain in a novel. The book delivered blow after blow of heart-wrenching information which left me with a sick feeling at the pit of my stomach. I would look up from the book at times and feel as if the world will never be quite as happy and as lovely as it was before. However, this is what it takes to raise awareness about the ugly realities of this world and be inspired into action by that knowledge.

The Not-So-Splendid: Until the later stages of the book, I became quite confused among the large number of people flooding Katherine Boo’s story. Perhaps it is because of her journalist background, but I think she might have tried to cover one too many lives all at once. In the end, only one or two names stood up in my memory. Another weakness is that some of what Boo told, especially about certain characters’ thoughts, convictions and beliefs, seemed quite unreal to me, due to the incredible depth and intimacy those passages conveyed. I had a hard time believing that all of it were truly the thoughts of the actual person. Lastly, at the risk of sound extremely privileged and spoiled by the riches of the middle class world, I had to put down the book at several points and couldn’t pick it up again until a few hours later because I couldn’t handle the heartbreaking injustice and poverty suffered by the slum-dwellers behind The Beautiful Forever wall. I was left emotionally scarred and paralyzed by the hostile, cold world we have built for ourselves and for others.

Final Verdict: 4/5

Best Enjoyed: In bits and pieces. You can’t eat it whole because it will break you apart and leave you hopeless.

Next bookworming targetLooking For Alaska by John Green

  1. I’ve just begun this book and the opening chapter just crushed me! Thomas’s storyline I could do without tho… An honest review. Glad to see it’s making others feel the same way — tho I don’t know how it could do anything but…

    • Did I miss something? Who’s Thomas?

      • I had a total brain fart! I’ve been reading two books at once — Behind the Beautiful Forevers and another book about India called Walk Across the Sun. Thomas is a character from the latter…

      • Literary polygamy, i practice that too. haha! Is the latter book any good so far?

      • It’s pretty heart wrenching, so if you’re into that sort of story, I recommend it — the first chapter anyway. I can’t speak for the whole book yet. It’s fiction. But well researched they say. Not the best writing, but a story worth being told.

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