One for the Grown-Ups

My next review will cover the book entitled “Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, death, and hope in a Mumbai undercity” written by the, in my opinion, great Katherine Boo.

Before I begin my actual review, I would like to start with a quick disclaimer. This book is not for the faint of heart nor for those who believe that all books should conclude with a happy ending tied up with a pretty little bow. If those are the things you’re seeking, you may want to skip this read. However, if you’re interested in the lives of those much, much difference and in many ways, worse than nearly everyone in America or those who have a general interest in different religions and lifestyles around the world, this could be the selection for you.

“Behind the Beautiful Forevers” is the account of journalist Katherine Boo as she spends three years living amongst the poorest in the world. Her work is based in the slums of Mumbai, India; more specifically Annawadi. Annawadi is a makeshift community where the families featured in the book build their homes. Strangely enough, Annawadi is set in the shadows of some of the most luxurious hotels of India and the airport, where the poor citizens watch as the wealthy leave the sadness of Annawadi behind.

As you can imagine, the densely populated slums do not offer much in the way of jobs, housing, food or education. While people living in the slums dream of such luxuries, acquiring them is another story. Unfortunately that story involves greed, corruption and crime. With so few opportunities for so, so many people, competition is fierce in the worse sense of the word. Fights, suicides and murder are common in these communities. As Boo witnessed some of these atrocities first-hand, she is well-educated and brutally honest regarding the horrors of living in Mumbai through her writing.

Boo follows the lives of a few different families during her time in Mumbai. Knowing that this extremely well-written author experienced real life in this rough lifestyle, her writing is all the more believable and frightening. As a writer for The New Yorker, Boo’s book is not for someone looking for a quick read. The book as well as the very real people in the book, deserve the reader’s undivided attention. And frankly without it, you will miss the subtleties that are crucial to trying to understand the complexities of a world most of us will never experience.

Personally, I would recommend this great read to those with an open mind, willing to let that mind go, sometimes, to dark places. If more people read and appreciated books like these, I’d like to believe we’d keep judgments to ourselves and realize that in essence, we are all striving for the same things.

“Behind the Beautiful Forevers” is a new favorite of this writer. I recommend it when friends are looking for something real and raw – a book that speaks of and to humanity. Like I said, don’t expect a happy ending. Instead, prepare for a gritty, honest, straight to the point writing that will leave you more knowledgeable and much, much more appreciative. If this book does not leave you feeling appreciative for what you have, nothing ever will. Embrace this treasure for all that it is.

Until next time, keep reading!

To review and purchase “Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, death, and hope in a Mumbai undercity,” use the link below (Amazon.com):
Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, death, and hope in a Mumbai undercity

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Let’s Start at the Beginning….A Very Good Place to Start!

My first review is on a book I’ve loved for 25+ years. It’s one that I made my mother read to me thousands of times, even after I learned to read for myself. When I recently discovered that the book was still in print, I was thrilled! It’s definitely not a book that most people know but it’s one I would recommend, nonetheless, to everyone. The book is entitled, “But No Elephants” by Jerry Smath.

After a number of pet adoptions, our hero, Grandma Tildy, the poor, white-haired, bespectacled woman finds herself in a dire situation; a lack of food and the cold winter quickly approaching. The solution to the problem comes from an unlikely source – and proves to the reader that having a big heart can payoff in the end.

While obviously the youngest readers won’t understand the lesson in the story, they will most definitely love the great artwork of animals and the sing along type moments of Grandma Tildy’s anthem, “But No Elephants!”

I would suggest reading this to children of any age but those under 2 may not have the attention span to enjoy this author’s personal favorite. Enjoy!

To review and purchase “But No Elephants,” use the link below (Amazon.com):
But No Elephants (Once Upon a Time)

Welcome to Heather Reads!

Have you ever found yourself wondering if maybe the younger version of yourself just knew better? As if the person you left behind would have been braver, more daring, even fearless? I sometimes wonder if the girl I used to be is still waiting for me to make her dreams come true. I know I’ve accomplished a few of her goals – finding true love, traveling to Europe and visiting London, Paris and Rome, and living near the ocean – but the writer in me is pretty lonely.

To that end, this blog is a chance to let the writer have her turn in the spotlight (however larger or small that light becomes), to show a little creativity and to hopefully help others enjoy my passion – READING!!

Books, magazine articles, children’s literature and everything in between. I usually read a variety of novels, biographies, fashion mags, and re-read my favorite children’s books. As part of my writing, I would encourage and welcome requests to read books and give an honest review to post. I stand nothing to gain by offering a positive or negative review. Just my own opinion.

Or, if you work with children and need some book ideas for a unit, I would love to recommend a series of age-appropriate, subject specific materials. I have been an avid reader since about the age of 4 and I still enjoy roaming the children’s section is stores or online.

Thank you in advance for joining me on this journey! I welcome any and all opinios. However, please try to avoid the use of obscenities or inapporpriate language. I would like this to be a resource for as many people as possible. This includes younger children searching for books to take a look at.

With that said, welcome and enjoy!