Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity
By: Katherine Boo
Synopsis: Slummmmmmin’ it!
Thoughts: So….I think I might have missed something here. Behind the Beautiful Forevers had good reviews – no, scratch that…Behind the Beautiful Forevers had wonderful, sparkling reviews. I’ve even gone back and read through some of them since finishing the book. And I just…don’t…get it?
For some reason, I had an incredibly difficult time getting into this book. When I decided to read it, I figured that Mumbai slum living seemed like something so foreign and far-removed from my life that I would have no choice but to be completely and utterly enraptured by the subject matter. I mean, yes…the book was interesting (in that sort of horrifying car crash, can’t look away way), but I never really found myself immersed in the book. It’s never a very good sign when you realise that you have to read passages multiple times because your mind continues to wander mid-way through. And let’s just say the back button on my kindle got a nice little work out during several sections of this book.
I did like Boo’s writing style (and also her last name is rad) – it was clearly a well-researched book, and I appreciated that it read more like a novel than a work of nonfiction. For me, it was a book of “should haves”. The characters should have made me feel stronger emotions. And the descriptions of the slums should have tugged at my heart strings more. Color me an unemotional robot, but this one fell just short of the mark for me.
Overall grade: B-