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Katherine Boo, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, spent over three years in the Annawadi slum of Mumbai, chronicling the lives of the people who call the slums home.

It is difficult to summarize this book because there are so many things in play and so many different “characters” involved. The main narrative that connects all the people in this book is about how a woman lights herself on fire and accuses her neighbours, Abdul and his father and sister, of it. She wants revenge on her neighbours who accidentally knock down her wall during their renovations.

Boo also writes of how the people in this story react to the global economic crisis. As people are already very poor and scrap together a living, the economic crisis deeply impacts them.

Through this narrative and everything else that links with it, a picture emerges of sadness, despair, survival, hope, helplessness, and ambition.

This was a very good book, though very sad. Reading about people living in conditions unfit for anyone to live in and being pushes down by uncontrollable forces, like the police and the government (who can basically stick anyone in prison, even without evidence).

Katherine Boo did justice to the people in the slums of Annawadi – to tell their story with such power and deep insight. Her dedication shows through, especially when you realize that she basically lived in the slums for three years.

I realized about ten pages in that I definitely should not have read this after Prisoner of Tehran! Two of the most emotional books I have ever read back-to-back left me burned out. However, read this book and learn that even when people live without freedom or running water, they still make the best of their lives.

Rating:

{  } Pretty bad
{  } Tolerable
{  } All right
{x} Exciting
{  } Enthralling

Book 26 out of 60

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