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LizzieBennet

Her Fine Eyes

Caustic reviews of YA books I adore. 

SPOILER ALERT!

This Beautiful Life

This Beautiful Life - Helen Schulman
(This book just didn't grab me enough to merit a long review.)
 
I found This Beautiful Life on Adult Books 4 Teens, and while it's reasonably relevant to the whole issue of online shaming that teens have to grapple with, I actually didn't find it especially engaging for teens. If the novel had been entirely from the boy's POV, it would have been great. But much of this book is about the mother, who has educated-rich-white-mom identity malaise, and her story line was such a drag to slog through, even for an adult.

 

The core conflict involves a basically decent high school boy who receives an explicit video from an eighth grader who has a crush on him. In his confusion and nervousness, he forwards it to a best friend, and of course, it goes viral. The book explores the impact this one small decision—to hit send—has on the boy, each member of his family, and ultimately the young girl who sent him the video. A young-adult novel with this synopsis would have interested me.

 

In this adult novel, however, the mother's conflict shares the stage. She has given up her career for her family and, while she loves them, she feels frustrated and unfulfilled. I just couldn't make myself care about her self-absorption, worries about status relative to others, pot-smoking, and yoga. It was never clear why, now that her youngest child was school age, she wasn't slowly transitioning back into a career or volunteer work, given that she had the oomph to do it after her divorce, when the logistics of being a single parent would be more difficult. And for that matter, her relationship with her husband never seemed bad enough to precipitate a divorce.

 

In sum. Whatever.