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Read-Alikes for This Beautiful Life by Helen Schulman

Novels about the tragedy and drama of family life.



In Freedom, as in This Beautiful Life, families with teenagers are integral to the plot. Common themes include parenting values, teen's struggle for independence, sex roles, and moral ambiguity.


Turn of Mind

Like This Beautiful Life, this thriller centers on a current events topic--coping with the onset of Alzheimer's. Dr. White, as well as her family and friends, don't know if she killed her best friend or not, due to her mind's descent into dementia.


Every Last One

Mary Beth spends her life focused on her family and children. When an unexpected act of violence shakes their world, she struggles to keep her family intact.



A scandalous tape of student misbehavior surfaces at a posh private school evoking a ripple effect of destruction.



Lee Fiora is a quiet teenager from South Bend, Indiana, who receives a scholarship to the prestigious Ault School in Massachusetts. At her new prep school, Lee witnesses a world of wealth and privilege that she could not have previously imagined. Lee is both desperate to fit in and also fearful of being exposed, and her physical involvement with an exceptionally popular boy illustrates the lengths she will go to be included.


Anna Karenina

150 years before the contemporary action of Schulman's This Beautiful Life, Tolstoy wrote this epic novel describing both "all happy families" and "each unhappy family." Taking for its theme the effect of one momentous decision upon the lives of the characters, Tolstoy displays the consequences, both simple and profound, of a marital affair (a scandal that mirrors the dilemma in This Beautiful Life). Played out against the background of aristocratic 19th century Russia, the tragedies and triumphs resonate with anyone who has ever been forced by love into making a difficult decision and struggling with the consequences. Feminism, education, family, financial and social security, fidelity, love, choices, reactions, and happiness (and much, much more) all are discussed here, in wise, accessible, and enchanting dialogue.


No Matter How Much You Promise to Cook or Pay the Rent You Blew It Cauze Bill Bailey Ain't Never Coming Home Again

An epic novel about a family in New York that brings up questions of race, class, and art. A wealthy young woman searches for her biological father, only to find him a broken man, ruined by the Vietnam War. She remains connected to him through her relationships with the rest of his family, going back and forth between the Upper Manhattan world of her parents and the gritty Lower East Side. A New York City story, both tragic and hopeful.