Nerfighteria Book Club: Behind the Beautiful Forevers

viaesqueviaesque Monument, COPosts: 44

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  • viaesqueviaesque Monument, COPosts: 44
    I just thought I'd start this discussion so everyone could post if they're reading the book/their thoughts/etc. I just got the book this morning and will be posting my thoughts. Let's keep this spoiler free for now. We can maybe make a separate spoiler-y one later once people start finishing the book. I guess I can make other pages for the other books we read. Or I could make a central book club thread. Thoughts?
  • KitKatPoisonKitKatPoison CornPosts: 6
    I just ordered my copy yesterday and I'm pretty excited.  I think maybe separate pages for separate books would be a good idea.  Just so we can keep our thoughts somewhat organized.  We could also have a book club thread comparing the books that we have read.   
  • viaesqueviaesque Monument, COPosts: 44
    Yeah that sounds like a good plan.
  • AmazingGraceAmazingGrace Posts: 25
    I'm getting it, too. I can't wait to read it.
  • I have read a few chapters into the book and so far I am loving it! It is written in a style that is compelling abd the story itself is so eye-opening. I am definitely looking forward to reading further into this book. I should really read non fiction more frequently.
  • I have read a few chapters into the book and so far I am loving it! It is written in a style that is compelling abd the story itself is so eye-opening. I am definitely looking forward to reading further into this book. I should really read non fiction more frequently.
  • mousycherisemousycherise MainePosts: 10
    I finished the book about a week or so ago. I really liked it. I just wish the ending had been a little different. I won't give anything away, though. I just bought "Maximum City" as well for the 'extra credit' read. I'm excited to see what everyone else thinks once they get it and have read it. 
  • emmmmalineeeeemmmmalineeee Posts: 2
    can someone tell me what they think would be a good age group for this book. thanks
  • mousycherisemousycherise MainePosts: 10
    can someone tell me what they think would be a good age group for this book. thanks
    Honestly, I think High School and older, perhaps? I think it's more because of the subjects that it covers and that a more mature audience is needed. That and there are some harder subjects in it as well.
  • excelnerdexcelnerd Posts: 4
    I just finished the book and it's amazing.  I'm looking forward to a discussion.

    can someone tell me what they think would be a good age group for this book. thanks
    Honestly, I think High School and older, perhaps? I think it's more because of the subjects that it covers and that a more mature audience is needed. That and there are some harder subjects in it as well.
    I'm not sure if this question is about appropriateness or ability. This book may not hold the interest of younger readers, but I wouldn't worry about someone picking it up and being hurt by the content.  The ability to read and sustain interest will be a sufficient filter for appropriateness. As for ability, I think it varies so much by age. Some middle school aged readers may be able to read it, but I think mousycherise's suggestion of high school is probably true for most.
  • ElliElli Posts: 11
    Mine will hopefully arrive soon, I can't wait to read it!
  • EmHasAUsernameEmHasAUsername Minnesota, USAPosts: 44
    I checked this book out in ebook format from my library last month, and read it within the week. I loved it. It offered a clearer perspective on what goes on in at least one slum than what we get from anything we see on the news. It also gives a good idea of how corrupt the police force is.
    excelnerd said:
    I just finished the book and it's amazing.  I'm looking forward to a discussion.

    can someone tell me what they think would be a good age group for this book. thanks
    Honestly, I think High School and older, perhaps? I think it's more because of the subjects that it covers and that a more mature audience is needed. That and there are some harder subjects in it as well.
    I'm not sure if this question is about appropriateness or ability. This book may not hold the interest of younger readers, but I wouldn't worry about someone picking it up and being hurt by the content.  The ability to read and sustain interest will be a sufficient filter for appropriateness. As for ability, I think it varies so much by age. Some middle school aged readers may be able to read it, but I think mousycherise's suggestion of high school is probably true for most.
    Ability level, I'd say many middle schoolers would be able to read it, but I think high schoolers or older would get a deeper understanding out of it in terms of greater social awareness. Then again, that would also vary depending on each person's personal background.
    "If you have life in you, you have access to the secrets of the ages. For the truth of the universe resides in each and every human being." - Morihei Ueshiba

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  • qog314qog314 Posts: 77 ✭✭
    Does anyone feel guilty while reading this?

    I just finished the first chapter. Here I am, sitting on a comfy chair - not working - reading this book. It makes me want give all my money to charity. 
  • KitKatPoisonKitKatPoison CornPosts: 6
    qog314 said:
    Does anyone feel guilty while reading this?

    I just finished the first chapter. Here I am, sitting on a comfy chair - not working - reading this book. It makes me want give all my money to charity. 
    I also felt guilty, but I also have a bigger appreciation for what I have and what I don't have.  I think that is kind of the books purpose in a way.
  • MarcellaMarcella Yeah The NetherlandsPosts: 1,376 ✭✭✭
    qog314 said:
    Does anyone feel guilty while reading this?

    I just finished the first chapter. Here I am, sitting on a comfy chair - not working - reading this book. It makes me want give all my money to charity. 
    Same here! Just finished chapter two and I feel like I should either donate everything I own to charity or go over there and just take all the people home with me...
    "If the kids don't believe, make them believe."

    - Alex Gaskarth
  • qog314qog314 Posts: 77 ✭✭
    @KitKatPoison yeah I think you're right. It's always been hard for me to balance seeing my "first world problems" as legitimate with understanding how incredibly lucky I am just being born here and not there. I'm usually either really caught up in my own/others problems or disregarding my own/others problems because they're ridiculous when to compared to others. I think these books help us not to be so absorbed with our own problems, but finding the balance is tricky. 

    @Marcella I know right?! haha 
  • qog314qog314 Posts: 77 ✭✭
    I'm not sure which chapter it's mentioned in, so don't read this if you're concerned about spoilers!

    I think it was in Asha's chapter that talked about how the people saw corruption not as bad, but as opportunity. The only way that the people there can get ahead is by doing things that are illegal - living on airport grounds, taking garbage to resell or recycle, using the police for business ventures etc. In a sense, they need that corruption to even exist. I had always thought that corruption helped people at the top by hurting those at the bottom.
  • Socialistbob1Socialistbob1 Posts: 1
    qog314: I had the same thought at first when I read that chapter but I think the rest of the book makes a clear a much stronger clear and concise point against corruption. I think the broader issue is exploitation of the weak by the less weak just look at (SPOILER ALERT COMING, SKIP THIS PART OF MY COMMENT IF YOU HAVE NOT FINISHED!) Asha and the man who needed the heart valve. Before she knew better she performed such tasks for free however her view changed to one where a person should pay a lot to live. In the end the man who needed the valve is dead and Asha and her family have made it out of the slum (SPOILER DONE). The widespread endemic corruption helps more than just those at the top but holds back almost everyone at the bottom. Many of those who profit off the exploitation of the less weak, would themselves be in a better situation if the system was honest. The government had many great programs which could have saved lives and lifted Anawadians out of the slums but instead everything the government did was undermined by corruption at every possible level. At least to me one of the broader messages was that if government was good or at the very least honest, many of the world's worst problems would begin to dissipate. 
  • icantevenicanteven Posts: 32
    It's horribly perplexing how difficult it is to get out of poverty. The government loans in place are used in a corrupt fashion. People often compete instead of working together.
    The book itself has cast light upon many things for me, including the above. It's wonderful to read, despite making me feel helpless to help those who need it.
  • qog314qog314 Posts: 77 ✭✭
    @socialistbob1 You make some very good points. Is it possible for a government to NOT be corrupt? Even ours is, when you look into it. I guess I would like to see what would happen if those government efforts had worked. 
    It seems like if the government were not corrupt, all of the Annawadians would be thrown in jail for living where they're not supposed to, though. 
  • excelnerdexcelnerd Posts: 4
    I'm late to a great conversation about corruption.  The pervasiveness and impact of corruption was definitely one of the biggest take aways from the book. It goes beyond government corruption.  A lot of the corruption that Asha is involved in relates to diverting funds from NGOs. Though, I think it is the corruption in the judicial system that makes it most difficult to make headway in other areas.  

    To answer qog314's question, "Is it possible for a government to NOT be corrupt? " I think that you find corruption in varying degrees in different communities, even within countries.  I don't think all communities experience corruption as rampant as in Annawadi. It would be interesting to think about the factors that may increase or reduce corruption.  Potential factors to consider:
    • institutionalized oppression of groups (caste, religion, race)
    • average income level
    • income inequality
    • elements of social infrastructure (that may be to vague)
  • qog314qog314 Posts: 77 ✭✭
    @excelnerd you make a good point. In this country we do have corruption but it is certainly not as rampant as in Annawadi. So, I guess the goal is not to completely eradicate corruption, but to make it less prevalent in the culture. 

    It seems to me that the more education a community has, the less corruption there is. Not only that, but having legit jobs available would be extraordinary helpful. It's not that Annawadians don't want to work - there is no work they can get that is legitamate. People like Asha wouldn't need to game the system if they had other options. 


  • aeryn_of_earthaeryn_of_earth Posts: 57 ✭✭
    Sunil is such an interesting character to me.  He seems to be the only one whose interests aren't entirely defined by his situation.  He bothers to eavesdrop on the school lessons even after he decides that his time is better spent scavenging.  He stands on the rooftop because it's a wide open space, a novelty, and he can watch the planes take off.  Does anyone else notice this?

    I was reading this and listening to Incongruent in the background, specifically 'The Universe Is Weird,' and I got to thinking about how those of us whose basic needs are taken care of can contemplate things like infinite unbounded sets and hadronizing gluon jets, while kids in Anawadi are stuck on "A is for Apple" and even those in college are learning by rote, not expected to actually READ their books, just memorize the summary on the syllabus and regurgitate it.  Sunil's curiosity makes him more human, to me, than the other characters.  Did I just say that?  More human?  Who am I to judge humanness?  A life is still a life, even if it's a bad one, and it can matter to the person living it even if it matters to no one else.  So I've just had a major bias pointed out to me: that I consider curiosity about the world a crucial aspect of personhood, and am less likely to feel sympathy for people driven by more practical factors.  Even when those practical factors are so dire.

    Good to know.

    Related: Is anyone else finding themselves considering Maslow's hierarchy of needs while reading this?  
    Little fly,                             Am I not                        For I dance
    Thy summer's play               A fly like thee?              And drink and sing                  --William Blake
    My thoughtless hand            Or art thou not               Til some blind hand                  Song of Experience
    Has brushed away.                A man like me?               Shall brush my wing.                "The Fly"
  • qog314qog314 Posts: 77 ✭✭
    @aeryn_of_earth Yes, I have definitely been thinking about Maslow's hierarchy of needs - mostly that I don't agree with it. 
    Sunil is a perfect example of this - even though he has no bed and sometimes doesn't have food, he is still curious. He still wants to learn and still thinks these deep thoughts about the universe. The tragedy is that he doesn't have access to better education that could feed that curiosity. 

    I think every human thinks about these things, but it can be difficult to find the time to do so when you're overwhelmed with more practical matters. 

    It seems like the hierarchy of needs is imposed by society - those of us who live in wealthier countries can focus our money on education because we don't need to spend it on food/shelter/etc 
  • aeryn_of_earthaeryn_of_earth Posts: 57 ✭✭
    qog314 said:
    @aeryn_of_earth Yes, I have definitely been thinking about Maslow's hierarchy of needs - mostly that I don't agree with it. 
    [...]
    It seems like the hierarchy of needs is imposed by society - those of us who live in wealthier countries can focus our money on education because we don't need to spend it on food/shelter/etc 
    Totally, Maslow's hierarchy is an outdated and classist hypothesis, but reading this book I can see why the idea took root.  It's not that people in dire situations don't have needs for self-actualization, education, love, or aren't curious about the world, it's that so little of their attentions or energy can go into the pursuit of those things because they have to spend so much time and energy just avoiding starvation.  But to think that creativity and problem-solving and confidence don't factor into the fight for survival in a situation like the one at Anawadi is ludicrous.
    Little fly,                             Am I not                        For I dance
    Thy summer's play               A fly like thee?              And drink and sing                  --William Blake
    My thoughtless hand            Or art thou not               Til some blind hand                  Song of Experience
    Has brushed away.                A man like me?               Shall brush my wing.                "The Fly"
  • WoodieDaThirdWoodieDaThird Posts: 2
    I am a little late to the game here but being a little over half way done I have found the social dynamic presented in this book to be extremely interesting. I don't know if spoilers are a big deal here but I will do my best to avoid them. It seems to me that the best laid plans of mice and men go awry pretty constantly but unfortunately to the loss of all parties involved. The corruption and the survival dependent on corruption are a source of great distress for me as it seems like the flawed system if taken away would leave the people in a worse state of affairs than before.

    Rant rant rant... I am really enjoying this book and hope all of y'all are as well.  

    keep on keeping on :]
  • qog314qog314 Posts: 77 ✭✭
    @aeryn_of_earth Exactly! I think you hit the nail on the head. 

    @WoodieDaThird yeah that has been distressing to me as well...It seems like whatever is done to help the situation ends up making it worse (e.g. the money that's supposed to be going to "schools" is just going to Asha but without that corruption she wouldn't have anything). It's a complicated and complex issue that is difficult to understand, but nevertheless interesting. 
  • AprilDawn351AprilDawn351 Middle of Nowhere, NE FL USAPosts: 7
    Just finished this book and wow! I can't say I loved it, because it depressed the heck out of me, but it did make me really think about imagining people more complexly.
    I'm gonna need a bigger flowchart!
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