Reader reviews and comments on Cruel Beautiful World, plus links to write your own review.

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Cruel Beautiful World

by Caroline Leavitt

Cruel Beautiful World by Caroline Leavitt
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  • First Published:
    Oct 2016, 352 pages
    Paperback:
    Aug 2017, 384 pages

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There are currently 26 reader reviews for Cruel Beautiful World
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Power Reviewer Becky H

Unforgettable
Lucy, 16 and naive, runs away with her High School teacher. Their life together in an isolated, and isolating, rural area is not what Lucy expected.
Lucy is portrayed sympathetically. The reader gets to know her intimately through her thoughts and actions. William, the teacher, is not so well known. His back story is presented in back flashes. His life with Lucy is seen only through her eyes. Lucy’s sister, a minor but very important character, never gives up searching for her sister.
The reader is constantly aware that “this will not end well”, but the actual ending is dramatic and terrifying. You will remember this book for a long time.
Susan P. (Boston, MA)

Cruel Beautiful World
I'm usually disinclined to read stories about runaways, especially in controlling relationships, but I couldn't pass up a Caroline Leavitt book. And she did not disappoint! The story of 2 teenage sisters in the late 1960s who live with their adoptive mother. (I was a teenager in the same period and the depiction of the times was authentic.) One sister is studious. The other less so and enamored with an edgy teacher with whom she runs away. This of course doesn't go well. And their adoptive mother has a less-than-happy past with which she has come to terms. The world does prove to be cruel and beautiful. The book is a deeply compelling, realistic read about imperfect relationships and finding one's strengths.
Cindy C. (Withee, WI)

Cruel Beautiful World
I found this book enjoyable and hard to put down. At the time this story took place, I would have been just a little younger than Lucy and Charlotte, so I remember some of this stuff. And the story of a young girl running off with her teacher is something that could have been taken from today's headlines. The characters often seem to be running away from the ties that bind them. There are so many stories woven together but I especially like how Charlotte grows and changes throughout the story. In some ways, it is as if she grows into herself. If I have one criticism of the book, it is the ending, unless of course the author intends a sequel about Charlotte because the end of this book left me wanting more.
Eve A. (Henderson, NV)

Cruel Beautiful World
This is the story of a teenage girl who runs away with her high school teacher. It is a story of the effect this act has on her, her teacher, their families and the people they meet along the way. I was drawn into the story right from the beginning. I liked the writing and the plot twists held my interest. This is a new author for me and I will definitely investigate other books she has written. I would love to see another book with a continuation of the story. The title of the book says it all and I do recommend this book.
Vicki O. (Boston, MA)

Cruel Beautiful World
Reading a novel like Cruel Beautiful World that evokes an array of emotions in a subtle way is a pleasure. At various times during the story, I felt like shaking Lucy, comforting Iris and Charlotte, crying with Patrick and yelling at Michael. All these characters stepped off the pages into a totally engrossing novel. It is definitely worth reading.
Terri C. (Litchfield, NH)

Cruel Beautiful World a must read
Cruel Beautiful world is a story of love as exhibited in Iris as her marriage is described, her taking in Charlotte and Lucy and watching how when we set aside ourselves, our small desires and needs, and extend ourselves to another by surrender of self in the moment, what we bless becomes a blessing in our lives. Contrast Iris with Lucy and we see how a pursuit of what we believe will satisfy and complete us often results in exactly the opposite. Putting our selfish needs and desires before the needs of others leads to despair, loss and more longing as we continue to pursue what we long for. The author delights us page after page with tender insights into longing, love, and heartaches with the most endearing encounters occurring as the story closes. One of the most inspiring reads this summer- a real delight with nothing in the plot expected as the story unfolds all the way to the last page.
Melissa S. (Rowland, NC)

Cruel Beautiful World
Caroline Leavitt's ability to bring complex characters to life in a way that touches the reader to the core is amazing! In "Cruel Beautiful World", the reader is immediately absorbed by the main character, Lucy, and her life altering decisions. However, somewhere along the way, the secondary characters and their struggles become just as absorbing to the reader. I found myself completely immersed in each subplot as the novel progressed. This ability to engage the reader in such a complex way is the mark of a great novel! I will recommend Leavitt to all my fellow readers and can't wait to read her other novels! I highly recommend this jolting and heartfelt novel. The unexpected twists and turns within the subplots make "Cruel Beautiful World" a complete success!
Cynthia A. (Grand Rapids, MI)

I want to know what happens next
What a great read! There are so many stories within the story and I love them all.There are twists and turns and surprises all through the book. I so enjoyed this book I had to fight with myself to put it down.
I hope Caroline Leavitt writes more books!

[Editor's Note: Caroline Leavitt is the author of many more books to discover! Some of these can be found here.

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Cruel Beautiful World examines the intricate, infinitesimal distance between seduction and love, loyalty and duty.

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