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Preview — This Beautiful Life by Helen Schulman
This Beautiful Life
The events of a single night shatter a family's sense of security and identity in this provocative and deeply affecting domestic dramaa brilliantly observed portrait of modern life and the underlying truths we take for granted.
First off, let me say that I listened to this on CD going to-and-from work, and the fact that the reader was overwhelmingly droll and snooty certainly tainted my impression of the book. It was very challenging to tolerate her smug and judgmental tone.
The plot centers on an upwardly-mobile New York family of four: Richard, a highly-sought university administrator; his wife, Liz, an initially sensible stay-at-home mom who has set ...more
When 15-year old Jake Bergamot passes on a chance to hook up with an eighth-grader at a party, telling her she is just too young, she tries to show him she is very definitely not too young by sending him an e ...more
The premise is good one, its what caught my attention, and I was excited to receive an uncorrected proof from Waterstones. Examining the worst challenges a family can face from the relative safety of a book can make for very thought provoking reading. But this is no "We Need to Talk About Kevin."
I felt the main barrier to me connecting with this book was the characters, and the lives they ...more
And that's just one completely unbelievable thing characters say in this book. Even tiny things annoyed me, like having a food server at a lobst ...more
A young girl appears naked on the Internet. A boy notices, and in some state of discombobulation, he passes the link on to a friend. Of course the girl goes locally viral, and the first boy gets in trouble. He eventually gets out of trouble due to one of his parents, who has a friend who has a friend. This whole mess happens amid a Chardonnay–and-Hummer-in-the-‘burbs family who curse a lot, drink too much, valu ...more
Fours years ago, my husband also received a job offer, doing something meaningful and rewarding, and off we went. Unlike Liz and Richard, our children were gr ...more
The story centers on Liz and Richard Bergamot and their two children, fifteen-ye ...more
Schulman's novel is populated by characters who make compromises (whether it's the highly educated career woman who becomes a stay-at-home mother, the idealistic striver who becomes a selfish banker, the parents who inundate their children ...more
I couldn't wait to be finished with this book. Start to finish, I was distracted by the writing itself. Though it was not poorly-constructed, many of her most interesting phrases and sentences read as if she had come up with them before writing the book and then looked eagerly for places where she could include them.
The characters were not terribly relatable. Though their lives are very different from my own, that should not have been enough t ...more
Liz and Richard Bergamot are upper middle class everyday parents. He is the reason they ...more
The author brings the reader into the family of a teenage boy who receives, unsolicited, a sexting video from a grade 8 girl. What happens next, and how it impacts the boy, his parents, and their lives unfolds quickly, and rather unevenly.
I found the author spent too much time with the mother/adopted daughter and the husband and his business mis ...more
Dad Richard has become consumed by his prestigious executive role at a major New York university. Mom Liz is fielding social calls and taking her young adopted daughter to sleepovers in a lush and decadent midtown hotel where “the central part of the suite looked exactly like the one Tony Soprano had once rented in a dream sequence… ...more
When the Bergamots move to the city, they're unsure how well they'll adapt. Soon though, Richard is consumed by his new job and Liz, who has given up her career, is hectically playing mother to six-year-old Coco and fifteen-year-old Jake. But the day Jake unthinkingly forwards a sexually explicit email attachment sent to him by a young girl is the last day of the Bergamots' comfortable middle-class existence. Within hours, the video clip is not only all over Jake's school, but all ove ...more
The subject matter is enough to give me night sweats. One of my worst fears in life is to make a seemingly small mistake that makes everyone hate me and then results in national notoriety, or maybe even criminal charges. (Yes, I'll seek help.) But anyway, that's EXACTLY what happens to the teenage character in this story. He makes a quick error in judgment, and everything spirals out of control. It's a story about forgiveness, and dealing with life in the digital age, and how people change (or d ...more