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Hope and Despair Meet Again   2 comments

Although I read a fair amount of nonfiction, my preference has always leaned toward fiction. As
I read Katherine Boo’s Behind the Beautiful Forevers, I had to remind myself this is a true
story – in  in fact, many true stories; it’s simply written with the smooth, eloquent narrative that
makes it read like a really good novel. But, it’s sad and it’s true.

Boo writes of the Annawadi slum in Mubai, India. For three years she follows the lives of several
families and child-scavengers all trying to survive in an overcrowded, rat-infested community of
makeshift structures that serve as homes. Mubai has numerous slums that fit this decription, but
Annawadi is the one located in the shadow of the international airport with its cosmopolitan hotels.

What makes Boo’s chronicle so intriguing are the people and their efforts to make more of their lives.
As if poverty alone were not enough to keep them down, they face government corruption, lapses of
moral judgment, and fear generated by religious differences. Boo’s account includes the experience
of Abdul who, with his father and older sister, is charged with murder when a vindictive neighbor
lights fire to herself. The family’s efforts to move out of Annawadi are thwarted as income is lost and
bribes must be paid.

This description of trying to exist in Mubai’s slums is much, much more than what most think of as a
hard-knock life. Yet, for their individual and collective foibles, these people continue to dream that
someday they will have more.

Behind the Beautiful Forevers
Four Bookmarks
Random House, 2012
256 pages

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Posted April 19, 2012 by bluepagespecial in Books, Reviews

Tagged with , , , , , , ,

2 responses to “Hope and Despair Meet Again

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  1. Thank you for sharing this read! It sounds like something I may interested in reading later. I think reading fiction is considered to be more popular than nonfiction because it provides more of a “surprise” feature that a lot of readers look for when cracking open a book. But true stories such as the one discussed by still can satisfy a reader’s quest for surprise.

    • Thank you! You’re right about the satisfaction and surprise aspects. I think those are some of the joys of reading. I’m guilty of forgetting they, and others, are just as evident in nonfiction as fiction.

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