Title: Cruel Beautiful World
Author: Caroline Leavitt
Publisher: Algonquin Books
Date: October 4th, 2016
Source: from Publisher for review
Synopsis (from Goodreads): Set in the early 1970s against the specter of the Manson girls, when the peace and love movement begins to turn ugly, this is the story of a runaway teenager’s disappearance and her sister’s quest to discover the truth.
Caroline Leavitt is at her mesmerizing best in this haunting, nuanced portrait of love, sisters, and the impossible legacy of family.
It’s 1969, and sixteen-year-old Lucy 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 caretaker for most of their lives, Charlotte’s youth has been marked by the burden of responsibility, but never more so than when Lucy’s dream of a rural paradise turns into nightmare.
With gorgeous prose and indelible characters, Cruel Beautiful World examines the intricate, infinitesimal distance between seduction and love, loyalty and duty, and what happens when you’re responsible for things you can’t fix.
Cruel Beautiful World hit me in a way only few books can.
The story, even though is fictional, became personal to me.
Reading this book, written in the most beautiful way, became hard for me.
I already know that writing this review will be even harder.
Cruel Beautiful World talks about three sisters, Lucy and Charlotte, adopted by their
aunt much older sister Iris.
Set in late 1960s and early 1970s, the story briefly talks about Mason girls and perfectly describes the atmosphere and fear that was present in that time.
Lucy is 16 years old girl who falls in love for the first time. She thinks no one understands her completely, no one but the man she loves – William, her teacher who encourages her to write, because he believes she could be a famous writer one day.
After some time, William gets a new job, in free school, and Lucy decides to move away with him.
Because she is a minor, she must not tell anyone, not even her sister, where the two of them will be going.
When they settle down in a small house in rural Pennsylvania, William controls Lucy’s every move and, because she is often alone in the house (waiting for him to come back) she realizes that the kind of life she chose for herself is not the kind she wants.
Charlotte is Lucy’s older sister, who has always been her protector. She is in college, an excellent student, but after Lucy starts missing, she can’t concentrate on anything. Her soul can’t have rest until she finds her.
Iris thought she would never be a mother, but once the girls come into her life they become her world.
She never told them she is their sister, they think they are her nieces.
After Lucy’s disapearance, Iris can’t have piece. She lives for the day she’ll reunite with Lucy.
Cruel Beautiful World is beautifully written story. Caroline Leavitt really captured the 1970s atmosphere well, but where she did the best job was in describing feelings.
While reading this book, one can not help but feel. Feel love, feel fear, feel sadness, feel anger, and feel the feelings that are hard to explain with words.
Lucy was my favorite character. In fact, she got so under my skin, that she became one of my all time favorite characters.
Maybe that is why I was so concerned about her.
I hated William. I still hate him. There are a lot of personal reasons why I hate him, but it is what it is.
I rarely hate book characters, I even often like villains, but I hate William passionately.
Cruel Beautiful World is beautiful, emotional book with an open ending, that I would highly recommend to literary fiction lovers out there.
5 thoughts on “Book Review: Cruel Beautiful World by Caroline Leavitt”
This sounds so emotionally intense! I love women stories and a well-written villain!
This book sounds like it has really touched you and could almost have been a difficult read. I find books that are close to my heart ( like The Sw19 Club ) are difficult to read but are often the ones you become most passionate about. It sounds like a really well written book. And you wrote a great review to show that.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Thank you Amanda! And you are absolutely right, books that stay with us often are difficult to read. I remember how hard The Book Thief was, but it is now maybe even the best book I have read during my life.
Have you read that one?
I haven’t read the book but I have seen the film and thought it was brilliant. I’m sure the book would be even better. Another one like that is ‘Out of the Darkness’ by Katy Hogan. It was brilliant and I still think about it.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Thanks, I’ll have to check that book out then!
LikeLiked by 1 person