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Paul

Pottstown, PA, United States | Member Since 2005

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  • Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 15 mins)
    • By Katherine Boo
    • Narrated By Sunil Malhotra
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (522)
    Performance
    (448)
    Story
    (454)

    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.

    Dr. says: "An Antidote for Shantaram"
    "Very depressing and disappointing"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I'm probably going against the swelling tide of accolades for this book but I was somewhat disappointed. Although the writing was excellent, the book began to drag in the second half. The characters were well drawn and, considering it is a non-fiction book, were very compelling. The problem for me is the subject matter. How much pain about the reality of the human poverty condition can anyone take? The fact that the main characters had drawn the deuce of diamonds in the genetic lottery was so clearly drawn and portrayed by the author that it began to grate on my patience. It would be like reading a book about sado-masochism; how many stories do I have to read before I get the point that some people are mean and horrible. Although I appreciate what Katherine Boo has done, has she really revealed anything that I didn't know before? Life is unfair. Corruption is everywhere. There is no hope for a better life for 80% of the world. The book really just confirmed what I already knew: people can adapt to any condition, even filthy, disgusting places like Indian slums. Did it really require three years of intensive research, 3,000 documents and thousands of interviews to discover that life is really dreadful for the poor? I appreciate that she didn't make up the stories and actually followed several of the characters from beginning to end but these stories could have just as easily occurred in the slums of Mexico City or Zimbabwe. I guess the contrast of this slum right up against the richness of the hotels was meant to emphasize the poverty. To be truthful, I thought "The White Tiger" was head and shoulders above this book for revealing the heart and soul of the Indian personality. In that book, the author, although in a humorous, cynical method, demonstrates why the average or impoverished Indian is stuck in his or her position in life. One of the best concepts that I don't believe Mrs. Boo intended was the repudiation of the "Trickle down" theory of economics. As India gets richer, it is only the top 1% who benefit. The rest of the Country still only gets water twice a day. (For those interested, read "The Big Thirst" to see how backward one of the "richest" countries of the world is. The best part of the book was a renewed appreciation for how wonderful my life is and how lucky I am to live in the United States with all its problems.

    6 of 9 people found this review helpful

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