Wednesday, March 7, 2012

On Tour: This Beautiful Life by Helen Schulman

When the Bergamots move from a comfortable upstate college town to New York City, they’re not quite sure how they’ll adapt—or what to make of the strange new world of well-to-do Manhattan. Soon, though, Richard is consumed by his executive role at a large New York university, and Liz, who has traded in her academic career to oversee the lives of their children, is hectically ferrying young Coco around town.

Fifteen-year-old Jake is gratefully taken into the fold by a group of friends at Wildwood, an elite private school.

But the upper-class cocoon in which they have enveloped themselves is ripped apart when Jake wakes up one morning after an unchaperoned party and finds an email in his in-box from an eighth-grade admirer. Attached is a sexually explicit video she has made for him. Shocked, stunned, maybe a little proud, and scared—a jumble of adolescent emotion—he forwards the video to a friend, who then forwards it to a friend. Within hours, it’s gone viral, all over the school, the city, the world.

The ensuing scandal threatens to shatter the Bergamots’ sense of security and identity, and, ultimately, their happiness. They are a good family faced with bad choices, and how they choose to react, individually and at one another’s behest, places everything they hold dear in jeopardy. 

This Beautiful Life is a devastating exploration of the blurring boundaries of privacy and the fragility of self, a clear-eyed portrait of modern life that will have readers debating their assumptions about family, morality, and the sacrifices and choices we make in the name of love. ~~ from Amazon 

My thoughts on This Beautiful Life ~~

First of all, I am going to show you the alternate cover of this book. This is the one that first caught my eye. I like them both but they are so completely different that I wanted to post both of them. Here is the other cover ~~ which one do you like best? I think I like the one right over there just a little more. --->

 ~~ What an amazing story, one that could very well happen to any of us and is happening in people's lives right now. A young teenage boy gets a sexy video from a young teenage girl, he forwards it on to a few of his friends, the thing goes viral, and everyone's lives are messed up. This Beautiful Life is about the aftermath of such a simple thing as forwarding an e-mail. The author did a fantastic job of laying it all out there as to what the ramifications are for something like this and how so many people had to suffer because if this incident. 

I had very strong feelings for the characters in this book. I felt sorry for fifteen year old Jake, who just wants to fit in at his new school and is so unhappy in his home life. Someone, pay attention to him, hello! I really disliked the father, he was so self-centered and focused on his career that he didn't have much time for his family. I just wanted to hit him! The mother isn't much better, she is a stay-at-home mom that seems to resent that she is at home. She needed a good shaking! And their young six year old daughter, Coco, gets invited to a sleepover party at the ritzy Plaza Hotel. Really? She's six! 

I have to credit the author for such great character development that got me a bit riled up as I was reading this story. Not every character in every book we read is going to be someone we love. 

The family members are pretty self-absorbed in their own little worlds and when this incident happens they find that they have to be there for each other or their family is going to fall apart. But can they do that? Can they pull it together to keep the family intact?  

This Beautiful Life is a great story and I highly recommend it. Ms. Schulman has written other books that I have not read yet. I like her writing and will be checking out her other titles.

Be sure to check out the other stops on the tour to see what other bloggers are saying about This Beautiful Life
The tour stops are listed here
Helen Schulman is the author of the novels A Day at the Beach, P.S., The Revisionist, and Out of Time, as well as the short story collection Not a Free Show. An associate professor of writing at The New School, she lives in New York City.
I received a copy of this book for my honest opinion. 


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