cover image This Beautiful Life

This Beautiful Life

Helen Schulman, read by Hillary Huber. Blackstone Audio, , unabridged, six CDs, 7.5 hrs., $29.95 ISBN 978-1-4551-1418-4

An upper-class family is rocked by scandal when teenage son Jake receives an e-mail containing an amateur pornographic video from a female admirer. Not knowing how to react, he forwards the e-mail to a friend. When the video goes viral and becomes a prominent news story, Jake is suspended from school and the family becomes the focus of local gossip. Hillary Huber narrates with tremendous empathy for all the characters, conveying their emotions and point of view, and making listeners sympathize with the entire cast. Huber does not create voices per se, instead she simply changes the inflection of her voice to bring out the personality of each character: Jake has a slangy, insecure, whiny sound to his voice; mom Liz’s voice is warm and maternal, but also introspective and conflicted; father Richard is always strong and commanding—even when he feels inside that his world is falling apart. All the complexities and insecurities of the characters are present in Huber’s nuanced performance, making this a compelling and thought-provoking audio. A Harper hardcover. (Aug.)