Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity by Katherine Boo
The title warns you: this is a book that is going to deal with big seriously depressing stuff.
And WHAM, right off the bat we jump into squalor and grime and a wrongly accursed youth afraid for his life, his ability to scratch out a living, and the the health and well being of his family.
On the surface, this is the book that follows a few of the inhabitants of an Indian slum but like the slum itself, that is just the surface. Really, this is a book about people struggling in a corrupt world, people acting out their baser instincts towards each other, and people overcoming their dismal situation
Or at the very least trying to make the best of a bad, very bad situation.
Boo’s treatment of the inhabitants of the slum is interesting. She neither makes them into caricatures of themselves nor paints them as totally blameless angels… she shows us complicated people who’s motivations are the same as those of us not living in slums even if their actions are different. It is a fascinating and perspective changing look at a portion of society that is at best ignored and at worst used for political traction.
I strongly recommend reading this book. Feel the weight of oppression the kindle of revolution, the despair of life’s traps and the hope shared by the children that someday things will get better.