•The first hand narrative technique gives the reader a better perspective of the life and times in the ghetto.
•The book is not all about a fairy tale, story and Brownell and Elizabeth do not hide the tribulations of some of the boys and girls they dealt with.
Mention Korogocho and some people will ask you, 'where is that?' But mention Kibera and many will tell you it's Africa's largest slum.
For those who know Korogocho, the picture that comes to mind is garbage, drugs, gangs, flesh peddling and chang'aa dens.
"The first thing you hear in Korogocho in the morning is someone being robbed or beaten," one of the residents, Kamau who features in the book, Ghetto Classics: How a youth orchestra changed a Nairobi slum, sums it.
This is after coming back from a trip in East Hampton in New York, where he says in contrast, birds chirping melodiously wake one up.
Life in the slum that sits next to the Dandora dumpsite in Nairobi's Eastlands is literally taken one day at a time.
But one lady ignored and battled all these odds to give some of the children in one of Nairobi's most savage neighbourhoods hope in life.
It is German philosopher, poet, cultural critic and composer Friedrich Nietzsche, who said, "Without music, life would be a mistake".
Indeed, without the birth of Ghetto Classics — the brainchild of Elizabeth Njoroge — the life of the many children who passed through the slum's ‘music school’ would have been a mistake.
Elizabeth's love for music and charity work that made her drop a career in pharmacy is captured in the new book.
Given her high-class upbringing and international schooling, Elizabeth could have easily come back to Kenya and pursued her pharmacy career, spend her weekends playing golf and watching polo or horse-racing and host her friends to afternoon teas.
But the path that led her to Korogocho opened avenues for many children and gave birth to a book.
What started as an assignment to write a piece for the New York Times by journalist Ginanne Brownell on Elizabeth and Ghetto Classics with time morphed into an interesting real life experience book, detailing life in Korogocho.
Despite this being her first book, Brownell has a good grasp of her subject and takes you through the trials and tribulations, pain and triumphs of Elizabeth's pet project.
And indeed the book is "crisp, descriptive, fun and authentic" as described by Pulitzer Prize winner Jeffrey Gettleman.
She takes you smack in the middle of Korogocho through her numerous visits, and interactions with the residents.
In the book, Elizabeth and the ghetto kids tell their story in their own words, with the author only acting as the medium.
The first hand narrative technique gives the reader a better perspective of the life and times in the ghetto.
The book takes you through the birth, baby steps and growth of Ghetto Classics and literally makes you mark every milestone in their life with them.
The 184-page book is an easy read with short well-packaged chapters and pictures that give you a vivid insight of the happenings in Korogocho.
Brownell tells the reader how the Art of Music Foundation gave birth to Ghetto Classics, which with time influenced the formation of the Kenya National Youth Orchestra and later the Safaricom Youth Orchestra.
Through Brownell's lens, the reader sees how music helped some of the children visit countries they would never have imagined, play before world dignitaries and perform alongside great classical music supremo.
Among the countries the youths visited and stayed include the US, Poland, Switzerland, Germany and the UK.
They performed for Pope Francis and President Barack Obama when the two separately visited Kenya and were a favourite of Kenya's Fourth President Uhuru Kenyatta.
The boys and girls also played alongside top jazz and classical musicians such as Branford Marsalis, David Sanborn and Marcus Miller.
It is a clear testament of how the arts can uplift and change lives and an encouragement that where you are born should not determine your destiny.
For those who see slums as pure trouble havens, Brownell's novel shows that good things can also come out of difficult and tough situations.
Simon K, one of the main characters in the book, went ahead to attain international education and is currently based in London; Charity is studying music in Poland, while Teddy is at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire.
Several others have since graduated or are still taking their studies in various fields in Kenyan universities and colleges.
The work in Korogocho has since been replicated in yet another slum, Mukuru Kwa Reuben, and in some public schools in Mombasa.
Jazz and classical music were for long associated with the well-to-do members of society but Ghetto Classics has proven that, indeed, music knows no boundaries.
The book is not all about a fairy tale story, and Brownell and Elizabeth do not hide the tribulations of some of the youths they dealt with.
Several did not change despite several attempts to help them. Some went into drugs, others dropped out of school, while some girls became teenage mothers. This, however, did not kill Elizabeth's spirit.
The book will be launched on March 8 at the Muthaiga Golf Club and a second launch will be at St John's Community Centre, which is the home of Ghetto Classics, on March 12.
It is available in all major bookshops and various online platforms.
The book is definitely worth space on your bookshelf.