This Beautiful Life
By Helen Schulman
(Harper, Hardcover, 9780062024381, 240pp.)
Publication Date: August 1, 2011
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When the Bergamots move from a comfortable upstate college town to New York City, theyre not quite sure how theyll adaptor what to make of the strange new world of well-to-do Manhattan. Soon, though, Richard is consumed by his executive role at a large New York university, and Liz, who has traded in her academic career to oversee the lives of their children, is hectically ferrying young Coco around town.
Fifteen-year-old Jake is gratefully taken into the fold by a group of friends at Wildwood, an elite private school.
But the upper-class cocoon in which they have enveloped themselves is ripped apart when Jake wakes up one morning after an unchaperoned party and finds an email in his in-box from an eighth-grade admirer. Attached is a sexually explicit video she has made for him. Shocked, stunned, maybe a little proud, and scareda jumble of adolescent emotionhe forwards the video to a friend, who then for-wards it to a friend. Within hours, its gone viral, all over the school, the city, the world.
The ensuing scandal threatens to shatter the Bergamots sense of security and identity, and, ultimately, their happiness. They are a good family faced with bad choices, and how they choose to react, individually and at one anothers behest, places everything they hold dear in jeopardy.
This Beautiful Life is a devastating exploration of the blurring boundaries of privacy and the fragility of self, a clear-eyed portrait of modern life that will have readers debating their assumptions about family, morality, and the sacrifices and choices we make in the name of love.