Title: This Beautiful Life
Author: Helen Schulman
Publisher: Atlantic Books, Penguin Books
Genre: Literary Fiction
Sometimes it becomes very difficult to relate to a novel and at others it is very easy. Not because you have experienced what the author is trying to say, but maybe because you feel it. There is a connect which is rare between a reader and a writer and when that is established, and then it is for life. The same happened to me while reading, “This Beautiful Life” by Helen Schulman.
“This Beautiful Life” is about a family that is at the center of a situation because of the son being involved in a sex scandal. The son in question is nothing but a teenager. Richard and Liz have the perfect life. They have recently moved to Manhattan with their two kids, the fifteen-year old Jake and their adopted daughter Coco, who is six years of age. They are living the American dream. Everything is going right for them. They are climbing the social ladder. They have it all – the money, the status and the friends in the right places. Till a thirteen-year old girl sends a pornographic film of hers to Jake and he forwards it to his friends, till it reaches more teenagers, which then explodes to a scandal. This is the plot of the book.
The book is in tune with the age that we are living in today. Internet sex scandals are dime a dozen and the impact they have is humongous. What I loved about the book was how Schulman has shown each member of the family dealing with the crisis at hand and what it takes to hold on together as a family in times such as these. At the same time, I liked how there is this balance of ideas running across the book – the moral dilemma of what was done and its guilt to the intent behind the action.
Helen Schulman’s writing keeps the reader on the edge – not the sort that is present in thrillers, but the kind that makes you wonder about life and what can happen in an instant. This is clearly the age of technology and what Schulman does is make us realize that what technology can also do at times – it can take a life apart and make a family take different stands – maybe sometimes against each other.
“This Beautiful Life” shatters myths about the easy and comfortable life and makes us see how it can all fall apart. The writing is crisp and to the point. It is descriptive and much needed for a book of this caliber. I would recommend this one a lot in the coming days to a lot of people.
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