My Review of Caroline Leavitt’s Cruel Beautiful World

Cruel Beautiful World by Caroline Leavitt Book Cover

Cruel Beautiful World by Caroline Leavitt

Have you ever read a powerful, well-written book that makes you uncomfortable not because it is exposing you to an unfamiliar lifestyle but because one or more of the characters reminds you of yourself? While reading Cruel Beautiful World by Caroline Leavitt, I didn’t want to look in the mirror, to see myself in some of the characters’ predicaments or contemplate the similarities.

And yet, I couldn’t stop reading this novel because I was desperate to know how Lucy’s, Charlotte’s, and Iris’s journeys would end or even begin again. Or how their choices might inspire new ones of my own. I didn’t want to put it down, and I’m glad I didn’t. Sometimes we need a prompt to reflect on our lives and choices in order to make changes. Sometimes it’s safer to do so while living vicariously through the characters of a novel. I’m not going to go into detail about which ones resonated with me or why, but I’m happy to say that change is in my horizon.


It’s 1969, and sixteen-year-old Lucy is about to run away 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 a nightmare.

Cruel Beautiful World examines the intricate, infinitesimal distance between seduction and love, loyalty and duty, and explores what happens when you’re responsible for things you cannot fix.

I highly recommend this novel, and I’ll be reading more of Caroline Leavitt’s work. I hope you will too.

Have you read a book lately that hits too close to home or has inspired changes in your life? Tell me about it.

In other news, my novel Tiger Drive continues to reach new readers and receive recognition. The ongoing support for my first novel warms my heart and humbles me daily. Last week, we announced the recipients of this year’s Tiger Drive Scholarship, which is one of the most rewarding outcomes of writing Tiger Drive.

And In the Doghouse is making people smile, and cry a little, with each page. So far the reviews and feedback have been top notch. People love Skip and Lucy as much as I do. What a relief! I had second-book jitters.

Thanks for being you and joining me from time to time. I’d love to hear what you are reading and what you’ve been up to lately.


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