Helen Schulman’s This Beautiful Life opens with the provocative scene of a middle school girl creating a video to attract the attention of a boy who’s two years older. Schulman then shifts to the boy’s family before the video was created. They are a fairly typical wealthy New York City family. Unfortunately this setup does not make them sympathetic; the reaction Jake’s parents have to him forwarding Daisy’s emailed video further cements them as unsympathetic characters. Schulman does keep the fast-paced plot compelling and very relevant through sharp writing and a basis in reality (the story is based on a real life viral video at a New York private school). The ending is lackluster though and seems like an afterthought that provides no resolution.
Review copy provided by the publisher, Harper Perennial.