Review: This Beautiful Life by Helen Schulman

Before the review, I’d like to note this is an adult title, but it has great crossover potential. It is about a 15 year old male and an even younger female. The point of view does alternate between the boy and his parents, but it is mostly told from his POV.

“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 book is the prime example of lack of privacy there is in the world. It’s tragic that things like this happen, but all too real in today’s world. From celebrities to kids who just want to “prove” something. That’s what this girl is…a child. It is seriously devestating to think that an 8th grader would do this. Then Jake, poor misguided Jake. I get that he’s young, but to forward a video of a girl even younger than he is…one that he admits is too young for him. Then to make it even worse more and more people forward it on and post it places.

It’s a very short book, but I would’ve loved to explore more of possible outcomes in this situation. I know it’s a gray area even today, with some kids getting tried for taking their own dirty pictures to boyfriends getting charged and labeled a pedophile for life. It’s in the headlines on a regular basis. It’s a great read, but because it’s so short I felt it was kind of lacking something. Especially at the end – the last chapter before the prologue just kind of ended. I’d have loved to known just what happened to the Bergamots.

This Beautiful Life is definitely deep and thought-provoking. It makes you wonder just what you would do if your child was in either situation. I still don’t personally know who I would blame for this.

I received This Beautiful Life from Harper Collins in exchange for my honest opinion.

Please note any links in the above post may be to affiliates. Any purchases made will provide Letters Inside Out a small percentage back.

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Comments

  1. Jennifer says:

    I have this on my shelf too. It’s been backburnered, but maybe I should pick it up.

    On topic, it’s definitely a gray area….schools are now administering punishments for this even if it happened off school property and time. I don’t agree with that at all. We need to let parents be parents, or not, as sometimes the case may be.

    Jennifer @ The Bawdy Book Blog

    • Amanda says:

      It’s a really good book.

      It’s just sad in some situations how people are charged way too much and in others are let off with nothing at all. :(

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