Author: Helen Schulman
Publisher: Harper Perennial
Source: TLC Book Tours
Synopsis: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.
This is not the first book I have read on the topic of sexually explicit viral mistakes. The first was a fiction written by an author who personally went through the nightmare with her son. I don’t feel any book on the subject could be better written than that one, but this one was awfully close!
Helen Schulman penned a novel full of intrigue, emotion and deep pain. It’s a novel that hits close to home because of the legitimate possibility that one might face the horror the Bergamot family goes through. In this day and age most five year olds can use a computer better than many adults. Children have been born into a world of technology and therefore excel and thrive in it without caution. The maturity and level of cause and effect awareness doesn’t come nearly as quick as the abilities they hold. Therefore, without thinking thousands of teens and don’t think before clicking forward, share, re-tweet or any of those other simple buttons that can make a funny photo or video go viral within seconds. In the case of Jake Bergamot, who quite honestly shouldn’t have been where he was, doing what he was, all it took was one forward to a friend and his life was forever changed.
The impact of this book is shown within Jake’s family. In what is already a tense situation, the heat is turned up and the family is pulled further apart. What seems to be well built soon comes tumbling down quickly as the family deals with the aftermath of Jake’s actions. Of all the people in this book, I felt most for Coco, Jake’s six year old sister, who doesn’t understand the immensity of what has taken place but is directly affected by it in many ways. The book is heartbreaking and gut wrenching. My reactions scaled from sympathy to anger. While I didn’t directly connect with these characters in many ways, I was able to connect with Liz, as a mom. Though I didn’t always agree with her actions, I felt her pain.
The book is a roller coaster ride that will have you hooked to the end but not ready to ride again anytime soon. It’s one of those novels that sticks with you and provides conversational avenues with others who have read it as well. Set in an elite area full of quick social judgements, where image means everything, this book shines a light on the "rich." I think it's safe to say your not safe from the world of hurt regardless how deep your pockets. I would recommend this book to others.
You’ll want to read it if….
· You like fiction
· You’re a fan of controversial subjects
· You don’t mind sex and language
· You have a child and have not prepared them well for these dangers
You won’t want to read this if….
· You have a sensitivity to sexually explicit content
· You have a sensitivity to adult language
· You’re not a fan of emotionally taxing books
· You’ve been through the situation or connected closely to this type of situation before