TLC Presents This Beautiful Life: Review and Free Giveaway

This Beautiful Life.jpgThis Beautiful Life by Helen Schulman

Release date: 2012 / 256 pages

Synopsis(from Amazon):  When fifteen-year-old Jake Bergamot receives—and then forwards to a friend—a sexually explicit video that an eighth-grade admirer sent to him, the video goes viral within hours. The scandal that ensues threatens to shatter his family’s sense of security and identity—and, ultimately, their happiness. This Beautiful Life is a devastating, clear-eyed portrait of modern life that will have readers debating their assumptions about family, morality, and the choices we make in the name of love.

Review:     When TLC contacted me to read and review This Beautiful Life, I agreed because I thought it sounded like a novel a book club could discuss for hours. As a reader I tend to avoid what I think of as “issue novels.”  I have read a number of Jodi Picoult’s works and tend to feel manipulated:Terrible Act Occurs… Feel outraged… starting NOW! 🙂  However, Schulman’s novel approaches the issue of teen sexting from multiple perspectives within a family, and each voice is unique and authentic, so the reader feels engaged, but not manipulated.

Since I love character-driven fiction, I might have preferred getting to know only one of the characters, deeply, since by the end I felt as if I knew each character a bit, but not fully.  However, the mother’s voice was quite compelling and complex and brought to life her struggles with her identity as a mother, wife, woman; her addictions to substances both real and imagined; her need for independence and dependence simultaneously.  The husband was also fairly interesting and the reader is able to get to know him as well as he knows himself.  The teenaged boy’s voice occasionally hit a false note in his involved musings, but was by-and-large believable. I would have liked the perspective of the “sender” of the sext — the five pages granted to her seemed more like an afterthought.

But I do believe most book clubs would appreciate this choice — it is a fast, page-turning read that would spark discussion without the aid of any formal discussion questions.  In addition, if the world of privilege in New York City is a draw, then this novel will surely not disappoint.

Interested in winning a free copy?  Please leave a comment and I will choose TWO lucky winners by the weekend!
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Thursday, February 9th: Peeking Between the Pages

Wednesday, February 15th: A Soul Unsung

Thursday, February 16th: Luxury Reading

Friday, February 17th: There’s A Book

Monday, February 20th: A Bookish Way of Life

Tuesday, February 21st: Everyday I Write the Book

Wednesday, February 22nd: A Cozy Reader’s Corner

Thursday, February 23rd: Book Journey

Tuesday, February 28th: The Betty and Boo Chronicles

Wednesday, February 29th: Book Hooked Blog

Thursday, March 1st: Reviews By Lola

Monday, March 5th: Chunky Monkey

Tuesday, March 6th: Book Club Classics!

Wednesday, March 7th: The Book Bag

Thursday, March 8th: Suko’s Notebook

Friday, March 9th: Stiletto Storytime

Tuesday, March 13th: “That’s Swell!”

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14 Responses to TLC Presents This Beautiful Life: Review and Free Giveaway

  1. Deb says:

    I have heard good things about this book and would be interested in receiving and reading it.

  2. Linda says:

    I’d love to share this book with my book groups. Thanks for the giveaway!

  3. Anita Yancey says:

    This book presents an interesting subject. I bet this kind of thing happens a lot these days. I would love to read the book. Thanks for the chance.

  4. Christy says:

    This would be an interesting read about real-life issues and life-altering choices

  5. techeditor says:

    I’ve read several other gushing reviews about this book. So I think I’d better read it. And I’d love to WIN it. Thanks.

  6. Kate Z says:

    I’d love to read this one!

  7. Anna says:

    This sounds like an excellent choice for our book club. Please enter me.

  8. Debbie says:

    Our book club would really enjoy this book. We are always looking for the new and books with exceptional reviews. Thanks for the great giveaways!

  9. Carol M says:

    This sounds like a book I would enjoy!

  10. Gail Audet says:

    This sounds like a very interesting story about real life issues. Your review makes me want to read it. To win it would be wonderful.

  11. Ellie says:

    An interesting book which concentrates on reality and life.

  12. Pingback: Helen Schulman, author of This Beautiful Life, on tour February 2012 | TLC Book Tours

  13. I can see this bringing up LOTS of discussion points at any book club meeting, but especially one that includes moms of teens.

    Thanks for your review for the tour!

  14. techeditor says:

    I won this book and read it but forgot to post my comments here until now.

    THIS BEAUTIFUL LIFE by Helen Schulman examines a normal family faced with an abnormal problem: the teenaged son, Jake, received by email a pornographic video of an eighth-grade girl he met at a party. The girl made it herself and emailed it to him because she had a crush on him. If it stopped there, no problem. But he forwarded it to his friend. From there, the video went viral; now it is seemingly everywhere. Schulman claims that an email travels at the speed of sound or light, which, of course, is a ridiculous thing to say. But it does go fast.

    First, though, Schulman contrasts the said party that Jake and his friends found with the party his mother and little sister attended the same evening. That might have been a good way to begin, but Schulman tells us way more than we need to know before she gets to Jake’s problem. That took up almost half the book, and it was boring.

    The second half is better. Now the reader sees how Jake’s problem is the family’s problem. Their problem, as seen from each family member’s perspective: how do we get Jake out of this unscathed?

    But it gets silly. For example, every time the parents argue they both think they’re on the brink of divorce.

    The end is unsatisfactory. It left unanswered questions and unfinished issues.

    My copy of THIS BEAUTIFUL LIFE was a giveaway from

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