“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.”
There is no wonder that This Beautiful Life was one of the 100 Notable Books in The New York Times Book Review for 2011. It is a book that not only touches a nerve for any parent in today’s world wide culture but also exposes the dangers of what we have come to take on as an every day mainstay: the internet that connects us all and what it brings to our lives both positive and negative. However This Beautiful Life shows the ugly side of that technological wonder by showing what it can cost us as an individual, a family, a community and a society as a whole. It’s a book where unfortunately no one wins but maybe just maybe by being read someone could be saved. For parents it can be a wake up call to have that oh-so important talk with your tech savvy child or even a reminder of how much your tween or teen may still need you in their life to guide them and be there no matter what their actions or missteps.
One decision made by two kids in this novel end up affecting the lives of so many. And it is a decision that could have easily been prevented. Had Daisy not felt the pressure to expose herself for an older boy to get attention, had she received better parenting or been better supervised at her age, had she been more confident in herself and felt loved for who she was…none of this perhaps would have happened. Had Jake not pushed that one key on his keyboard and sent a revealing video spiraling out into the world both big and small…none of this would have happened. But neither is the case and in many ways this novel becomes a story of survival and rebuilding on a personal level and a family level….and more than anything a warning. A must for parents of tweens and teens but also a very eye opening read for all readers, this book speaks volumes about the world in which we have come to live.