Behind The Beautiful Forevers Summary – March 2022

Author: Katherine Boo

Short Summary
Behind The Beautiful Forevers (2012) summary reveals the situation of the Annawadi slum in Mumbai, India as described by the author. In the book, the author Katherine Boo documents the life struggles of people living in the Annawadi slum and how they are fighting every day to make both ends meet.
behind the beautiful forevers summary
Source: amazon.com

Detail Summary

The book Behind the Beautiful Forevers is written by an award-winning New York staff writer Katherine Boo. Katherine went to see the terrible condition of people living in the Annawadi slums. Annawadi is in Mumbai India near the Chhatrapati Shivaji Internation Airport. The author Katherine Boo spent three years and four months in the Annawadi slum with the most deprived people. She has documented their condition in her book.

The book shares the story of a garbage sorter named Abdul and his struggles. Abdul was earning by scavenging garbage. He was hiding in his family’s rubbish shed, fearful of being caught for setting fire to his neighbor Fatima, despite the fact that he is innocent and has spent his entire life trying to keep out of trouble. Sunil, another young child from Annawadi, understands how limited the poor’s alternatives are. He spends the entire day looking for rubbish to sell to Abdul, mostly along a concrete wall at the airport covered in ads for “beautiful everlasting” ceramic tiles.

The goal of this wall is to keep Annawadi hidden from the airport’s wealthy international visitors. Sunil is rarely able to find enough trash at the airport to eat properly. His growth has been stunted due to a lack of nutrition, and he tries to exploit his appearance to win sympathy from airport security personnel, but it rarely works.

Besides that, the author describes the story of Asha who used political connections to get rid of poverty while raising her beautiful daughter as well.

Behind The Beautiful Forevers Summary Key Points

Poverty in Annawadi slum

The author describes the condition of people living in Annawadi. Although they are extremely poor they are still trying hard to make both ends meet. Their young kids are trying to feed their families and women there are also fighting to come out of poverty. Everybody has dreams and all parents want their children to give all the basic necessities of life.

Annawadians are not only fighting poverty but also diseases, corruption, and violence. Annawadians are obliged to dump their garbage into a local sewage lake because they do not have access to a sewer. Animals drink from sewage waste and disease-ridden excrement strewed about, making the locals sick. Not only that, but the sewage lake also attracts malaria-carrying mosquitos and ill rodents.

Moreover, when they do become ill or injured, access to medicine is a major issue, as the healthcare system itself is corrupt. Even when the state should pay for medicine, hospitals tax the Annawadians and take advantage of their plight.

Corruption and police abuse

The author Katherine points out the corruption and police abuse in her book through the eyes of poor people. Moreover, she criticized the elite Indians and considered them an obstacle to India’s progress.

The school that the Annawadi children attend is an example of this. It is supported by philanthropic donations, which are tragically misused. It is governed by a mother who places her unqualified daughter in charge of the school. And, in order to maximize profits, she has her daughter teach exclusively on days when the charity overseer comes in to check on things.

The people know the police will only help them with bribes. This is the only way they can avoid having false charges filed against them. Moreover, people are forced to choose the wrong path of corruption because they know that’s the only way to make their lives better and change their fate.


Another lesson that the author gives to the readers is to be empathetic towards everyone around you. People are fighting to survive. Even people in Annawadi are killing their children because they don’t have any other option and they have nothing to feed them. Moreover, people are doing suicide to get rid of poverty.

But the privileged and corrupt people won’t understand this because these incidents and poverty haven’t hit you. The slumlord hasn’t got offended by us and we are not facing malaria. So, we can’t feel their pain.

The book tells that the children in the slums are routinely struck by cars as they cross busy streets on their way to school, and the drivers rarely stop. When a child dies, the police don’t even bother to investigate.

When a 15-year-old boy is killed, everyone around can see it was definitely murder. The cops label it TB to avoid having to look into it further. Sick children may be killed by their own parents in desperate situations where they know they will not be able to pay for their care. Others commit suicide because they are imprisoned in their lives.

Who would I recommend Behind the Beautiful Forevers Summary to?

Behind the Beautiful Forevers Summary is recommended to all those who are ungrateful for what they have and complain over everything that they can’t get. The book will make them realize how some people are fighting to survive and come out of poverty. Moreover, the book will teach you to be more empathetic.

Link: https://amzn.to/3JbsHVZ