Cruel Beautiful World

Free love reigns in the United States of 1969, but 16-year-old Lucy Gold, "the pretty towhead" and "live wire" of her tiny family, isn't going to its hub in San Francisco. Instead, her passionate affair with her high school English teacher, William Lallo, has turned into an invitation to run away with him to rural Pennsylvania, where he'll teach at a self-directed private school and Lucy will stay out of sight until she turns 18. To Lucy, a romantic idyll beats staying home, where she has always felt like the odd one out next to her brainy, responsible big sister, Charlotte, and their loving aunt Iris, who raised them from childhood when their parents died in a car accident. With Charlotte ready to graduate high school and talking nonstop about college, Lucy can't stand the thought of being left behind.

Bonded for years by their love for Lucy, Charlotte and Iris panic when they find her farewell letter. As time passes with no sign of their prodigal child, Charlotte leaves for Brandeis University, but comes home to care for Iris with increasing frequency. A big-hearted, sensible woman, Iris hides a bittersweet past and a secret--she isn't the girls' aunt.

In Cruel Beautiful World, Caroline Leavitt (Is This Tomorrow) perfectly captures the essence of the teen years adults tend to look back on fondly through the lens of nostalgia, reminding the reader of the uncertainty, insecurity, naive expectations and broken dreams that came with growing up. Deeply resonant and quietly powerful, this novel has the heart-pounding moments of a thriller and the heart-warming moments of a perfect coming-of-age story. --Jaclyn Fulwood, blogger at Infinite Reads

Powered by: Xtenit