If you only read one book this summer, or even this year, read this book. Soon.
I picked this book up on a whim. I was looking for something a little bit more... meaty to read after all the fluff I'd been reading lately. I saw the New York Times 100 Notable Books sticker on the front and that was good was enough. But this book turned out to be so much more than another summertime beach read. It is by far, without a doubt, on my all-time top 10 list.
From page one, I was hooked. For the first time in a while, I found myself highlighting passages that I found true, relatable, and insightful. And then I realized what was about to happen. And then I put the book down. I needed to take a deep breath and mentally prepare myself for what was about to happen.
When a book is really good, fluffy or meaty, I get lost in it. Without even realizing what is happening, I completely tune out everything else that's going on around me and fall head first into the world the author had created. But in This Beautiful Life, when I found myself absorbed into the fiction world the author had created, I wanted to look away, to stop reading, to make it all stop and go back to… normal. But I couldn't. I know it's a cliche, but reading this book was like watching a train wreck. You're horrified by what you see, yet you just can't look away. And even though you had nothing to do with the crash and have nothing to offer in terms of help, and in fact no one even knows you're there, somehow you still feel an obligation to stay. To see this thing through.
I took a deep breath, picked the book back up and returned to my fictional world. What happened next scared the shit out of me. What happened to that boy could happen to my boy, or my girl, or even to me. Or you. And how his mom reacted is exactly how i would've reacted. You know when you're reading a book or watching a movie and you start silently yelling at the character, "Stop! what are you doing! Don't!" That moment never came. And still hasn't. Even after reading this book, after witnessing the train wreck and understanding why it happened, I still have no clue what she, he, or their son could've done differently. They were just ordinary people dealing with an insanely extraordinary situation. What is scary is that in our world today, that situation isn't extraordinary at all. I now understand how ignorant I am about raising children, the Internet, and overall, the world that we live in.
Read. This. Book.