I'm a little later on this book review than I had hoped I would be, thanks to a crazy busy week at work.
Nonetheless, I recommend picking up this book in your shopping this week (online or in store), as it just came out on Tuesday, February 7th.
Here's the summary of Behind the Beautiful Forevers, courtesy of Goodreads:
Annawadi is a makeshift
settlement in the shadow of luxury hotels near the Mumbai airport, and
as India starts to prosper, Annawadians are electric with hope. Abdul, a
reflective and enterprising Muslim teenager, sees “a fortune beyond
counting” in the recyclable garbage that richer people throw away. Asha,
a woman of formidable wit and deep scars from a childhood in rural
poverty, has identified an alternate route to the middle class:
political corruption. With a little luck, her sensitive, beautiful
daughter—Annawadi’s “most-everything girl”—will soon become its first
female college graduate. And even the poorest Annawadians, like Kalu, a
fifteen-year-old scrap-metal thief, believe themselves inching closer to
the good lives and good times they call “the full enjoy.”
But then Abdul the garbage sorter is falsely accused in a shocking
tragedy; terror and a global recession rock the city; and suppressed
tensions over religion, caste, sex, power and economic envy turn brutal.
As the tenderest individual hopes intersect with the greatest global
truths, the true contours of a competitive age are revealed. And so, too, are the imaginations and courage of the people of Annawadi.
With intelligence, humor, and deep insight into what connects human beings to one another in an era of tumultuous change, Behind the Beautiful Forevers carries
the reader headlong into one of the twenty-first century’s hidden
worlds, and into the lives of people impossible to forget.
The description of this novel really caught my eye. I love to read novels in different worldly settings. While I've read novels depicting Indian life and culture, I have never experienced a novel like Behind the Beautiful Forevers. Boo, who is married to an Indian man and found the slums of Mumbai fascinating enough to write this story, exposes a culture of common Mumbai slum survivalists. There are also people in this novel that do not survive Annawadi, be it by their own hand or that of another. Scandal at all levels is exposed, and justice scarcely reigns over money.
The reading itself went by a little slowly, but just because the novel was so factually dense. As Boo is a journalist, I found much of the information she presented to be very much more setting based than I would have liked, with less personalization within the character development. I longed for more details about the Annawadians: their history, present, and plans for the future. I understand they may not have wanted to share all of that with a journalist following them around. Overall, I recommend this novel for those of you who enjoy reading about a culture so removed from that of your own.
Here are my stats for this novel:
Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo
2012 Reading Goal: 2,978/15,000
Happy February readings! :)
FTC Disclosure: I received a copy of this novel from the author or publisher in exchange for an honest review.