Cruel Beautiful World : A Novel

Item request has been placed! ×
Item request cannot be made. ×
loading   Processing Request
  • Additional Information
    • Publication Type:
    • Abstract:
      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.
    • Subject Terms:
    • Subject Terms:


Booklist Reviews 2016 June #1

After their parents died, Lucy and Charlotte faced the world on their own, and Charlotte became very protective of her little sister. When Lucy runs away with her high-school teacher, Charlotte feels betrayed and resentful of the burden of responsibility she has felt for Lucy through their adolescence. After tragedy strikes, she will once more bear the burden to find out the truth about what has happened to Lucy. The novel starts in 1969, as the era of peace and free love is being ushered out amid Vietnam, Kent State, and the Manson murders. Leavitt skillfully weaves these events into the fabric of the story, and as an age of innocence is left behind, so, too, do the sisters find their lives unraveling into something darker and sadder than ever expected. Themes of love, romantic and familial, reflect the title. Although the plot is reminiscent of Dan Chaon's Await Your Reply (2009), the tone and coming-of-age themes are more likely to attract readers of Tayari Jones' Silver Sparrow (2011) or Carol Rifka Brunt's Tell the Wolves I'm Home (2012). Copyright 2014 Booklist Reviews.

LJ Reviews 2016 May #2

A columnist for the Boston Globe, a book reviewer for People, and the author of New York Times best sellers like Is This Tomorrow, Leavitt makes churning suspense of a 16-year-old runaway's discovery that living in 1969 rural Pennsylvania with an older man is not such a blessed escape.

[Page 49]. (c) Copyright 2016 Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

LJ Reviews 2016 August #1

It's 1969, and 16-year-old Lucy loves dangly earrings, hippie bell-bottoms, and Love's Baby Soft shampoo for her golden curls. But the naïve sophomore hates high school with a passion. Her charismatic, hip English teacher William makes it bearable, seeing potential in her creative writing and making her feel special. They become intimate, and Lucy is titillated by sneaking around. When his antiestablishment, antiwar stance runs afoul of the school administration, William takes a job at an alternative school in rural Pennsylvania, and Lucy runs off with him. Discovering Lucy's farewell note, Iris, her elderly adoptive mother, and Lucy's straitlaced older sister, Charlotte, immediately call the police, only to be met with indifference. Leavitt's (Is This Tomorrow; Pictures of You) 12th novel tracks Lucy's experience, from her immediate misgivings upon seeing the remote, dilapidated house that William rented, to her loneliness, frustration, and growing awareness of William's increasing paranoia, all chronicled in her journal. From Charlotte's perspective, we see the terrible impact Lucy's disappearance has on her and her mother. VERDICT Overall, this is a compelling exploration of love and loyalty, which could have been made perfect with a shade more Vietnam-era context. [See Prepub Alert, 4/25/16; eight-city tour; library marketing.]—Christine Perkins, Whatcom Cty. Lib. Syst., Bellingham, WA

[Page 84]. (c) Copyright 2016 Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.