Thursday, October 6, 2011

This Beautiful LIfe: DNF

This doesn't happen often, but I didn't finish a book. There have been books I didn't like (Stiltsville), but I finished them. I could not finish This Beautiful Life by Helen Schulman. I tried. I made it halfway through the book. I felt like I was forcing myself to finish. There was no anticipation for me. There was no racing to find out the ending. I reached a point where I just didn't care.

The premise was good: what happens when teenagers engage in sexting? A young girl e-mails a graphic video of herself to Jake, a teenage boy at her school. It was only meant for Jake, but the teenage mind doesn't think too far ahead. He e-mails it to a friend, then that friend passes it on to another. Get the picture? By the next day the video has gone viral. Everyone at school, including the teachers, knows about it. Who is to blame for this? The kids? The parents? My problem with the book is that no one looks in the mirror when assessing blame. The kids and the parents are to blame. The kids for not thinking, and the parents for not instilling better values. Jake's mother puts all the blame on the girl. She doesn't even consider her son's part. Perhaps that caveat was solved in the latter half of the book, but as I said I didn't care. I was becoming bored.

The narration jumped between characters. It starts off with Jake's mother, Liz, then his father, Richard. Liz is caught up in the mommy cliques. Richard is all business. He's more worried how Jake's problem will impact his reputation and job. By the time Jake took over narration, I could care less. I kept waiting for something to interest me, but there wasn't. Anyone else read this one? I see all these wonderful comments on the back of the book, and I think did we read the same book?

Note: I received a copy of this book from the publisher (HarperCollins) in exchange for an honest review.

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