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Author of AGAINST A DARKENING SKY, THE EMPTY ROOM, OUR DAILY BREAD, and others. Find out more at www.LaurenBDavis.com. I read as if my sanity depended upon it.. . . oh, wait, it does! Snort.

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

Behind the Beautiful Forevers - Katherine Boo I found reading book a curious and unsettling experience. It is astonishingly well-researched, and Boo's attention to detail and ability to vanish into her writing, allowing the subjects of her work to maintain the spotlight is admirable. It is a grueling read, since what I suspected from the beginning of the book -- that nothing good will happen here; that despair, disappointment and anguish will surely follow -- proves all too true. Multiple suicides, ubiquitous corruption (especially among organizations like World Vision), ever-increasing poverty, violence . . . I found turning the pages harder and harder. This perhaps, is the challenge for the reader. I am someone who is not at all put off by grim, dark fiction (in fact, I quite like it), and whereas my heart can withstand a good deal of what might be termed depressing fiction, it cramps under the weight of heart-breaking non-fiction, of children doomed to painful lives and early deaths, of women trapped in violent marriages, of unnumbered masses of people barely existing in the maw of crippling poverty. And yet, one should not look away. The least we can do is bear witness, to educated ourselves and feel increased empathy -- perhaps even find a way to help, if not the people who struggle so halfway round the world, then the people just like them, struggling down the block.