By Meredith Maran Ellen Shapiro Charlotte Triggs
August 15, 2011 12:00 PM

This Beautiful Life

by Helen Schulman |



A besotted eighth-grade girl e-mails your 15-year-old son a sexy video of herself; he forwards it to his best friend, and all hell breaks loose. What would you do? And who’s really to blame? That’s the premise of Schulman’s topical, unsettling new novel, set in Manhattan’s world of private-school privilege but chillingly relatable for parents anywhere. Jake Bergamot’s no jerk, just a kid trying to find his way-a sweet, thoughtful boy who thinks, as the girl in question flirts with him at a party pre-scandal, “Her hand feels like a little paw, a teddy bear’s paw…. He was so weird; he couldn’t stand himself sometimes.” Yet he never fully acknowledges his role in the debacle, mostly because his dad, Richard, a master of the universe type, and Lizzie, his highly educated stay-at-home mom with an “outsize adoration” of her only son, step in to rescue him after he’s suspended. Even as he’s wielding his considerable power to make things right for Jake, Richard decides modern parents “love their kids too much. This love is crippling in its way.” Raising tough questions about child rearing, morality and the way the Internet both frees and imprisons, Schulman’s story resonates.

The Rules of the Tunnel

by Ned Zeman |



What do penguins, electroconvulsive therapy, A-list gossip and bicoastal love have in common? Journalist Zeman makes the best of them all in this sobering, laugh-out-loud memoir about the severe depression that overcame him at age 32. Now 46 and healthy, Zeman advises others: “Find the right shrink…. Get up…. Go somewhere. Anywhere. Except to the shooting range …”

The Nightmare Thief

by Meg Gardiner |



After investigating a case in the Sierra wilderness, forensic psychiatrist Jo Beckett and her boyfriend bump into a group of young people who’ve been kidnapped after an “urban reality game” goes horribly wrong. As the motley crew tries to escape the kidnappers, Gardiner throws everything at them-reptiles, floods, assorted psychos. The result is a sometimes implausible race for survival-but even loopy plot twists can’t hold back Thief’s tidal wave of adrenaline.