This Beautiful Life: A Novel (P.S.)

This Beautiful Life - Helen Schulman This Beautiful Life is a poignantly written exploration of the emotional consequences of one's actions and how it can affect many lives in such a devastating way. It paints a stark portrait of the sacrifices and choices that are made in life, with regards to family, morality, and life altering lessons and trials endured by young people these days. It's not only thought provoking, but also quite disturbing in the story it has to tell. To say that it's shocking would most assuredly be an understatement. Yet, it is one of the most compelling books that I have read so far, this year. It's a beautifully written insight into such a horrifying event. Schulman is brilliant at showcasing where the fault lies from such a potentially bad juvenile decision, how the fall out is eventually dealt with, as well as highlighting the strengths and weaknesses of the Bergamot family and their shortcomings. With Jake's poor judgment at hand, comes the revelation that not one person in the Bergamot family unit is unscathed by his lack of what seems to be a much needed moral compass. It further raises even more questions regarding their parental responsibilities. The exposure garnered from such a horrendous blunder on Jake's behalf, is enough to emotionally devastate his whole family in one way or another. This Beautiful Life addressees issues that deal with the social boundaries of privacy, the culpability of such an ugly event, and the moral responsibility people have to themselves to acknowledge right from wrong. One of the drawbacks with this novel is that the parents seemed to be just as confused as their children were, as far as culpability was concerned. For instance, one could say that the young teenage girl was at fault for making such an explicit video and sending it to Jake, but I personally feel as if Jake is more at fault for making the choice to not delete it or at least tell his parents about it and then forwarding it on to all of his friends, so they could forward it onto theirs. It almost seemed, at times, as if the parents were only worried about protecting their own family names or reputation. The confusion and angst surrounding this story is captured in such a beautiful way, that the moral outcome of this book will stay with readers long after the last page has been turned. Schulman does a wonderful job of making all of her character's sympathetic to reader's, in such a realistic way that they will stick with them. While it is true that what Jake did was wrong by forwarding that video on to his friend, he never would have done so if he had known that it would hurt Daisy in such the way that it did. This Beautiful Life is a heart-wrenching, emotional rollercoaster that is thought provoking, and filled with beautiful prose. It is a story about personal choices and how mistakes can affect people, in many ways as result of them. The characters and story arc are well developed, while still possessing hidden but realistic flaws of their own. This Beautiful Life is not a novel that readers will soon be forgetting.