"Backdropped by the Vietnam War and the Manson murders, Cruel Beautiful World is a fast-moving page-turner about the naivete of youth and the malignity of power. Read more...
- [-] Other Available FormatsOur PriceNew & Used MarketplaceCruel Beautiful World (Paperback)
Publisher: Algonquin Books$15.95Cruel Beautiful World (Large Print Hardcover)
Publisher: Thorndike Press$33.99Cruel Beautiful World (Audio Compact Disc - Unabridged)
Publisher: HighBridge Audio$39.99
"Backdropped by the Vietnam War and the Manson murders, Cruel Beautiful World is a fast-moving page-turner about the naivete of youth and the malignity of power. Leavitt exploreswith a keen eye the intersection of love, family, and the anxiety of an era." --Lily King, author of Euphoria
Sixteen-year-old Lucy Gold is about to run away with a much older man to live off the grid in rural Pennsylvania, a rash act that will have vicious repercussions for both her and her older sister, Charlotte. As Lucy's default parent for most of their lives, Charlotte has seen her youth marked by the burden of responsibility, but never more so than when Lucy's dream of a rural paradise turns into a nightmare.
Cruel Beautiful World examines the intricate, infinitesimal distance between seduction and love, loyalty and duty, chaos and control, as it explores what happens when you're responsible for things you cannot make right.
Set against a backdrop of peace, love, and the Manson murders, the novel is a reflection of the era: exuberant, defiant, and precarious all at once. And Caroline Leavitt isat her mesmerizing best in this haunting, nuanced portrait of love, sisters, and the impossible legacy of family.
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2016-10-31
- Reviewer: Staff
In this suspenseful novel by Leavitt (Pictures of You), impulsive 16-year-old Lucy runs away with her high school English teacher, William, "the coolest teacher on the planet." It's 1969, and Lucy is itching to get away from the working-class suburb of Boston where she lives with her high-achieving older sister, Charlotte, and their elderly guardian, Iris. William, cautioning her that they'll both be in danger if they're caught, takes her to live in an isolated house in rural Pennsylvania, from which he goes out to teach at a progressive elementary school, leaving her to do housework, feed the chickens, write in her journal, and secretly take a job at a farm stand run by grieving young widower Patrick. Leavitt alternates among the points of view of Lucy, Charlotte, Iris, and Patrick. The first half of the novel is a model of restrained and matter-of-fact horror: Lucy has no idea how much danger she is in, but the reader does. Chapters from the points of view of Charlotte and Iris, who face more ordinary challenges, provide realistic respite from the drama. The second half of the novel loses momentum. Leavitt's evident determination to keep the plot tidy and tie up loose ends detracts from the initial willingness to confront ambiguity that makes the first half so bold. (Oct.)